According to the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 4th and 8th graders scored higher in math on the assessment than in any other year. The average score increases at both levels increased by 1 point since 2011. More students than ever in 4th grade reached the Proficient and Advanced levels and more students than ever in 8th grade reached the Proficient level. Achievement has consistently been on the rise since 1990 — so much so that 4th and 8th graders today are 2 to 3 years ahead in math than their counterparts two decades ago.
It should be noted, however, that increases have lagged since 2003. The national average for 4th graders has improved by 29 points since 1990. Only 7 of those 29 points, however, have been made in the past 10 years. A similar trend is true for 8th graders. The past ten years is only responsible for 7 of the 22 points gained in the past 23 years.
Fourth Grade State Level
- At the state level, scores increased between 2011 and 2013 in fifteen states (Arizona, District of Columbia, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming)
- No state saw a decrease in its average 4th grade mathematics score.
- Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Hampshire were the highest performing states, while the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Mississippi were the lowest performing.
- In terms of minority achievement, Black students in North Dakota scored higher than Black students in any other state. Hispanic students in Indiana scored higher than Hispanic students in any other state.
Fourth Grade National Level
- Nationally, scores increased by 1 point between 2011 and 2013.
- Student achievement in math has increased by 29 points (3 year’s worth of learning) since 1990, the 1st year of NAEP.
- The percent of fourth-graders scoring at or above NAEP’s Proficient level has more than tripled since 1990 (13 percent in 1990 vs. 42 percent in 2013).
- Moreover, the percent of fourth-graders scoring below NAEP’s Basic level has decreased from 50 percent in 1990 to 17 percent in 2011.
- Since 2011, achievement gaps widened slightly for White and Black students. The gap narrowed for White and Hispanic Students.
- The Black/White achievement gaps narrowed from 25 points to 26 points, while the Hispanic/White gap narrowed from 20 points to 19 points. Blacks remain a little less than 3 years behind Whites, while Hispanics are about 2 years behind.
- Furthermore, since 2003, the Black/White achievement gap has only decreased by 1 point. The Hispanic/White gap has shrunk by 3 points in that time.
Eighth Grade State Level
- At the eighth grade level, 6 states improved their scores between 2011 and 2013, while Montana, Oklahoma and South Dakota saw a decline.
- Massachusetts continues to post the highest eighth grade math scores, with New Jersey, Minnesota and Vermont close behind. The District of Columbia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and New Mexico scored the lowest.
- Black eighth graders in Massachusetts outperformed Black eighth graders in all other states. Hispanic students in New Jersey outperformed Hispanics in all other states
Eighth Grade National Level
- Nationally, scores increased one point from 2011 to 2013. However, students in 2013 have obtained about two more years’ worth of math than students in 1990.
- The percent of students reaching NAEP’s proficient level has more than doubled from 15 percent in 1990 to 35 percent in 2013. The percent scoring below NAEP’s Basic level decreased from 48 percent to 26 during the same time period.
- At the eighth grade level, achievement gaps between Whites, Blacks and Hispanics did not change from 2011 to 2013.
- In 1990, the Black/White gap was 33 points. It rose to 40 in 2000 and has since shrunk down to 31. The Hispanic/White gap started at 24 points in 1990, increased to 31 in 2000 and decreased to 22 in 2013.
- The Black/White gap has not significantly changed since 2005. The Hispanic gap has not changed since 2009.
For more information on NAEP, check out the Center’s report The Proficiency Debate: A guide to NAEP achievement levels.