“The results are sobering”: Math, reading scores see decline amid pandemic, new report says

Math and reading scores for fourth and eighth graders have plummeted since 2019, a new report shows. Math scores saw their biggest decline since initial assessments in 1990 and reading scores were their lowest in three decades amid the pandemic.

The 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress also found that nearly four in 10 eighth graders failed to grasp basic math concepts and only one in three students achieved reading proficiency standards.

In addition, 25% of fourth graders performed below the NAEP’s basic math level in 2022 — the highest percentage since 2003; and 37% of public school students in fourth grade also tested below the NAEP’s basic reading level.

Average fourth grade math scores declined in 23 of 26 surveyed urban districts, with drops ranging from four to 15 points since 2019. Fourth grade reading scores went down in nine of those 26 districts. Those drops ranged from six to 16 points.

“The results are sobering,” said Peggy Carr, the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics.

The results also showed Black and Hispanic students fell further behind than their White and Asian peers, and girls declined faster than boys.

“Well, we don’t know precisely, but we think it has to do with socialization. Girls needing to have a social context,” Carr said when asked why girls declined faster. “And maybe they were differentially impacted by being isolated during this time.”

Carr said that, while schools should focus on boosting math scores, parents can help their children make up lost ground by reading together.

“The message to parents is that this is serious,” Carr added. “It will take all hands on deck and they’re one of those hands.”

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