Record Education Drop is 
“Academic Malnourishment”

Latest NAEP Scores Are More Than Pandemic-related

Washington, DC. – The results of today’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show a massive decline in student achievement. One out of three students cannot do math or read at grade level. One out of four students are not able to perform even at minimal, basic levels. According to the report’s authors, “the national average score declines in mathematics for fourth- and eighth-graders were the largest ever recorded in that subject.”

“This record plunge on NAEP scores is a continuation of bad education policy, pandemic or not,” said Jeanne Allen, Founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform (CER). 

“This is academic malnourishment.” 

Highlights from the National Assessment of Education Progress:


  • Only 33% of 4th grade students are proficient or above in reading. A full 37% are below basic – meaning barely able to perform basic grade level reading skills and just 29% are basic.
  • Among 8th grade students, only 31% are proficient in reading, only 39% percent can read at a basic level and fully 30%  – more than in 2019 – are below basic. 


  • Only 37% of 4th grade students are proficient or above in math compared to 41% in 2019. Fully one-quarter are below basic compared to 20% in 2019.
  • Among 8th grade students, 27% are proficient or above in math compared to 34% in 2019 and a whopping 38% of students are below basic.

A majority of states saw declines as did almost every subgroup. Analysts and experts around the nation are parsing through the numbers, which will no doubt provide more insights into how best to understand and act on the data.