Nation’s Report Card Shows Largest Ever Drop in Math Scores

Student test scores saw precipitous declines in math and reading over the past two years, according to new data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, commonly known as the nation’s report card.

The 2022 scores, which measure student proficiency in reading and math, is the first edition of the nation’s report to be released since COVID-19 pandemic policies forced schools nationwide to close their doors, in some cases up to a full year.

The biggest score declines were in math, which the National Center for Education Statistics said in a press release were the biggest decline ever recorded. For fourth graders, math scores declined by five points to 236 from their 2019 number of 241, while eighth grade scores plummeted a whopping eight points from 282 to 274.

In reading, both fourth and eighth graders saw three point declines from 2019. Fourth grade scores fell from 220 to 217 and eighth grade scores from 263 to 260.

“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,” Peggy Carr, the commissioner of the National Center of Education Statistics, said in a press release. “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.”

Not a single state saw an increase in scores for either subject, although a handful of states saw no change in their results. In all, 51 out of 53 states or territories saw declines in eighth grade math scores, with Delaware, West Virginia, and Oklahoma registering the largest declines. Only Utah and the Department of Defense Education Activity —which provides public schooling to military families—did not register declines in eighth grade math scores.

For eighth grade reading, scores declined in 33 states and territories, remained even with previous results in 18, and rose within DOD schools by two points. Maine, Delaware, Oklahoma, and Oregon saw the largest declines in reading scores, with scores dropping by eight points in Maine, and seven points in the other three states.

The abysmal state of student proficiency in math and reading was largely expected due to the prolonged school closures brought on by pandemic policies. But Monday’s results are the most comprehensive measurement of student achievement since the beginning of the pandemic more than two years ago.