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Indicator 10: Mathematics Achievement
(Last Updated: July 2017)

At grade 8, average 2015 mathematics scores for White (292), Black (260), and Hispanic (270) students were lower than the scores in 2013 (294, 263, and 272, respectively), while the average 2015 mathematics scores for Asian, Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native students and students of Two or more races were not measurably different from the scores in 2013.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assesses student performance in mathematics at grades 4, 8, and 12 in both public and private schools across the nation. NAEP mathematics scores range from 0 to 500 for grades 4 and 8, and from 0 to 300 for grade 12.


Figure 10.1. Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics scale scores of 4th- and 8th-grade students, by race/ethnicity: 1990, 2013, and 2015

Figure 10.1.  Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics scale scores of 4th- and 8th-grade students, by race/ethnicity: 1990, 2013, and 2015


—Not available.
‡Reporting standards not met (too few cases for a reliable estimate).
1 Prior to 2011, separate data for Asian students, Pacific Islander students, and students of Two or more races were not collected.
NOTE: Includes public and private schools. At grades 4 and 8, the mathematic scale scores range from 0 to 500. Testing accommodations (e.g., extended time, small group testing) for children with disabilities and English language learners were not permitted in 1990. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1990, 2013, and 2015 Mathematics Assessments, NAEP Data Explorer. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 222.10.


At grade 4, the average mathematics scale scores in 2015 were not measurably different from the scores in 2013 for students from most racial/ethnic groups. The exception was White students, for whom the 2015 average score (248) was lower than the score in 2013 (250). For White, Black, and Hispanic students, average scores in 2015 were higher than the scores in 1990. At grade 8, average 2015 mathematics scores for White (292), Black (260), and Hispanic (270) students were lower than the scores in 2013 (294, 263, and 272, respectively), while the average 2015 mathematics scores for Asian, Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native students and students of Two or more races were not measurably different from the scores in 2013. Consistent with the findings at grade 4, the average mathematics scores for White, Black, and Hispanic 8th-grade students were higher in 2015 than in 1990.1

Closing achievement gaps is a goal among education policymakers. From 1990 through 2015, the average mathematics scores for White 4th- and 8th-graders were higher than those for their Black and Hispanic peers. The White-Black achievement gap at grade 4 narrowed from 32 points in 1990 to 24 points in 2015. The 4th-grade White-Hispanic achievement gap in 2015 (18 points) was not measurably different from the gap in 1990. In 2015, White 4th-grade students scored higher than American Indian/Alaska Native students (gap of 21 points), Pacific Islander students (gap of 18 points), and students of Two or more races (gap of 3 points). Asian students scored higher than White students (gap of 11 points).

At grade 8, there was no measurable difference in the White-Black achievement gap in 2015 (32 points) and 1990. Similarly, the White-Hispanic achievement gap in 2015 (22 points) was not measurably different from the gap in 1990. In 2015, White 8th-grade students scored higher than American Indian/Alaska Native students (gap of 25 points), Pacific Islander students (gap of 16 points), and students of Two or more races (gap of 7 points). Asian students scored higher than White students (gap of 16 points).


Figure 10.2. Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics scale scores of 12th-grade students, by race/ethnicity: 2005, 2013, and 2015

Figure 10.2. Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics scale scores of 12th-grade students, by race/ethnicity: 2005, 2013, and 2015


—Not available.
‡Reporting standards not met (too few cases for a reliable estimate).
1 Prior to 2011, separate data for Asian students, Pacific Islander students, and students of Two or more races were not collected.
NOTE: Includes public and private schools. At grade 12, the mathematics scale scores range from 0 to 300. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2005, 2013, and 2015 Mathematics Assessments, NAEP Data Explorer. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 222.10.


At grade 12, the average 2015 mathematics scores were not measurably different from the 2013 scores for any racial/ethnic group. The 2015 scores were higher for White, Black, and Hispanic students than in 2005,2 the first year a comparable assessment was administered.3

Achievement gaps were also evident for 12th-grade students. The average mathematics scores for White 12th-grade students were higher than the scores for their Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native peers in every survey year since 2005. Asian students scored higher than White students in 2015 (a gap of 11 points).

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1 Data were not available in 1990 for students who were Asian, Pacific Islander, and of Two or more races. Additionally, data for American Indian/Alaska Native students in 1990 did not meet reporting standards.
2 Prior to 2011, separate data for Asian students, Pacific Islander students, and students of Two or more races were not collected; therefore, these groups were not included in the comparison of 2005 and 2015 scores.
3 The 2005 mathematics framework for grade 12 introduced changes from the previous framework in order to reflect adjustments in curricular emphases and to ensure an appropriate balance of content. Consequently, the 12th-grade mathematics results in 2005 and subsequent years could not be compared to previous assessments, and a new trend line was established beginning in 2005.