State school reading gains continue while national drops recorded

Mississippi maintained its historic gains in fourth grade reading on the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), while scores nationally dropped in all four NAEP subjects and grades.

The 2022 NAEP results provide the first national measure of student learning since the start of the pandemic. Known as the Nation’s Report Card, NAEP measures student performance in fourth and eighth grade reading and math in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. 

The 2022 results show Mississippi fourth graders scored at the national average in both reading and math. Mississippi’s economically disadvantaged fourth graders achieved higher scores in reading and math than their peers nationally and in the South. This achievement holds steady among black, white and Hispanic students living in poverty.

“The 2022 NAEP scores prove the resilience of Mississippi students and the ability of Mississippi educators to provide high-quality instruction despite the challenges of the pandemic,” said Dr. Kim Benton, interim state superintendent of education. “While our state’s scores are encouraging, they also underscore the need to press forward to ensure all students achieve proficiency. In particular, we have more work to do in eighth grade reading and math to bring student performance up to the national average and then continue to improve.”

In eighth grade, Mississippi scores dropped three points in reading and eight points in math, which matches the decline nationally in both subjects. Mississippi fourth graders dropped seven points in math, which is statistically equivalent to the five-point decline nationally.

While pandemic disruptions are believed to have affected this year’s national decline on NAEP, scores have been falling over the past decade in most states. Despite this national trend, Mississippi is a leader among the few states that have shown improvements on one or more NAEP assessments over the past decade. Specifically:

Mississippi achieved significant gains in fourth grade reading and math since 2011.

Along with Washington D.C., Mississippi is the only state or jurisdiction that improved over a 10-year period in two of the four core NAEP subjects.

Mississippi is one of only two states with improved fourth grade math scores over a decade and one of only three states with gains in fourth grade reading.

In eighth grade, Mississippi scores remained flat in reading and math over the past decade while the average scores nationally dropped in both subjects.

In short, over the past 10 years, Mississippi has improved significantly in reading and math in fourth grade and held steady in both subjects in eighth grade while scores nationally in both grades and subjects have declined.

In 2019, Mississippi achieved the No. 1 spot in the nation for NAEP gains when fourth grade students made the largest score gains from 2017 to 2019 in reading and mathematics, eighth grade students outpaced the nation for growth in mathematics, and eighth grade reading held steady. Student achievement has increased significantly since 2013 after the statewide implementation of the Literacy-Based Promotion Act, higher academic standards with aligned assessments, a strong accountability system, and a significant investment in professional development for educators.

Pre-pandemic, student achievement steadily increased from the first administration of the state’s Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) in 2016 until 2019, when the percentage of students scoring proficient and advanced reached a record high. After a decline in MAAP scores in 2021, student achievement rebounded in 2022 to pre-pandemic levels.

Mississippi/National reading proficiency trends (Mississippi Dept. of Education graphic)

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob provides content for DeSoto County News and occasionally is heard on the OB Pod podcast talking about area happenings. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.