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NAEP Math and Reading Long-Term Trend Report for 13-year-olds

The National Assessment Governing Board hosted the release of the NAEP Long-Term Trend (LTT) Report for 13-year-olds in reading and math on June 21, 2023. Results showed declines in both subjects, and survey data revealed important insights related to independent reading, math course-taking, and student absenteeism. View the livestream of the release event, which took place at Oakdale High School in Frederick, Md.

The LTT assessment is an age-based version of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as NAEP or the Nation's Report Card. It changes very little, unlike the main NAEP, which is generally updated every decade to reflect instructional shifts in schools. LTT allows for comparisons across time, providing more than five decades of data. It assesses fundamental skills using more limited types of questions and prompts than the main NAEP. Explore the differences in more detail.

A nationally representative sample of 13-year-old students in seventh and eighth grades took the LTT assessment in the fall of 2022. The findings follow the release of other NAEP data in math, reading, civics, and U.S. history, all of which showed declines amid the pandemic.

Thirteen-year-olds were generally making progress on the LTT assessments until 2012. Since then, scores have trended downward and have taken an even sharper decline since COVID disrupted schools in 2020.

Steep Declines in Math

  • Average scores for 13-year-olds declined 9 points in math compared to the LTT assessment administered in 2020. When compared to a decade ago, scores dropped 14 points.
  • Lower-performing students experienced greater declines than higher-performing peers in math on the LTT, a trend seen on other recent NAEP assessments.
  • Students' math performance on the LTT dropped to levels not seen since the 1990s on the latest assessment.

Falling Scores in Reading

  • Average scores for 13-year-olds declined 4 points in reading on the latest LTT assessment. When compared to a decade ago, scores are down 7 points.
  • Students are on average reading at levels not seen since the 1970s, according to the latest assessment.
  • Reading scores declined relatively evenly for students working at various percentile levels. Unlike in math, the score declines of lower performers were not significantly different from those of higher-performing students.

Fewer Students Reading for Fun and More Student Absences

Survey data accompanying the LTT results showed a decline in students reporting that they read for fun on their own. Just 14 percent of students reported that they do that, down 3 percentage points from 2020 and 13 percentage points from 2012.

In addition, the percentage of students who said they were absent for five or more days of school in a month has doubled, from 5 to 10 percent of students.

What National Assessment Governing Board members are saying about the LTT results:

“U.S. students are struggling across the board. Educators, policymakers, and families need to work together urgently and decisively to address this generation’s learning needs," said Beverly Perdue, National Assessment Governing Board chair and former North Carolina governor.

“These latest results provide additional evidence of the scale, the pervasiveness, and the persistence of the learning loss American students experienced as a result of the pandemic,” said Martin West, academic dean and professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a member of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. (Washington Post)