The average test scores for 13-year-old students in the U.S. have decreased in reading and math since 2020, reaching the lowest levels in decades, with more significant declines in math.
The average scores, from tests given last fall, declined 4 points in reading and 9 points in math, compared with tests given in the 2019-2020 school year, and are the lowest in decades.
The declines in reading were more pronounced for lower performing students, but dropped across all percentiles.
The math scores were even more disappointing. On a scale of 500 points, the declines ranged from 6 to 8 points for middle and high performing students, to 12 to 14 points for low performing students
The math results also showed widening gaps based on gender and race. Scores decreased by 11 points for female students over 2020 results, compared with a 7-point decrease for male students.
Among Black students, math scores declined 13 points, while white students had a 6-point drop. Compared with the 35-point gap between Black and white students in 2020, the disparity widened to 42 points.
While the scores show a drop from the pre-pandemic years, the results also show that there are other factors at work.
The decline is even more substantial when compared with scores of a decade ago: The average scores declined 7 points in reading and 14 points in mathematics.
The Education Department says plans are underway to address the learning loss.
The latest results are from the NAEP Long-Term Trend Assessment, traditionally administered every four years by the National Center for Education Statistics.