New NAEP scores reveal historic learning loss

By October 25, 2022 News

New test results released yesterday show the full scope of learning loss from the pandemic. Scores from the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as “The Nation’s Report Card,”  reveal historic declines in math and significant drops in reading performance. The new NAEP scores are the first to be released since the pandemic, and measure performance changes since 2019. Students in both 4th and 8th grades took the tests.

Peggy Carr, the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which released the scores report, called it “a serious wake-up call for us all.” (Read more in this AP news story.) She added, “In NAEP, when we experience a 1- or 2-point decline, we’re talking about it as a significant impact on a student’s achievement. In math, we experienced an 8-point decline — historic for this assessment.”

What are key takeaways from the new results?

In North Carolina:

Scores declined across the board–in both grades and subjects.

  • Math scores tumbled 10 points for 8th graders and 5 points for 4th graders.
  • Reading scores dropped 7 points for 8th graders and 5 points for 4th graders.
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, one of the urban districts participating in NAEP, posted its lowest scores on record for basic skills. Read more about CMS’s performance from WSOC-TV.
  • In 4th grade math, scores decreased in 43 states/jurisdictions. Scores in 10 states did not change significantly between 2019 and 2022.
  • Eighth grade math marked the grade and subject with the greatest disruption. Scores dropped in 51 states and jurisdictions.  Only students in Utah and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) did not show significant negative change.
  • In 4th grade reading, scores declined in 30 states/jurisdictions. Scores in 22 states did not change significantly.
  • In 8th grade reading, scores dropped in 33 states/jurisdictions. Scores in 18 states did not shift significantly. In DoDEA schools, scores increased.

In a press release about the results, Commissioner Carr said:

The results show the profound toll on student learning during the pandemic, as the size and scope of the declines are the largest ever in mathematics. The results also underscore the importance of instruction and the role of schools in both students’ academic growth and their overall wellbeing. It’s clear we all need to come together—policymakers and community leaders at every level—as partners in helping our educators, children, and families succeed.


Kristen Blair

Author Kristen Blair

Kristen Blair is the communications director for the North Carolina Coalition for Charter Schools.

More posts by Kristen Blair