NAEP Math scores

Connecticut students fell behind during the pandemic, but not more than their peers across the country, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress test.

The test, known as the nation’s report card, showed that fourth and eighth graders had the steepest decline in learning since the early 1990s. 

It’s the first results since the pandemic began. When it comes to math and reading the average score in fourth and eighth grade declined, but Connecticut was in the middle of the pack when compared to other states. 

Connecticut students did perform better than students nationwide, beating the national average in reading by three points, and in math by one point.

The results showed that 35% of Connecticut students are at or above proficiency in reading and that only 37% of fourth graders and 30% of eighth graders are at or above proficiency in math. When compared to the 2019 results that’s a 6% decline in reading and an 8% decline in fourth grade math and a 9% decline in eighth grade math. 

Broken down by demographics, Connecticut’s average scores in 2022 for students who are Black and students who are Hispanic are lower than the national public average scale score for the same student group. However, in eighth grade math Connecticut’s overall average score in 2022 is higher than the overall score for the national public.

“Results from our state assessments and now NAEP amplify the continued sense of urgency to act comprehensively, with all our education partners, to address the academic and non-academic needs of our students, and to support the professional needs of our educators,” Connecticut Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker said. 

Kate Dias, president of the Connecticut Education Association, and Jan Hochadel, president of AFT CT, cautioned that the results are simply a snapshot in time. 

“The NAEP results highlight the continued effects of COVID-19 on our students and confirm what educators have been saying for more than two years,” Dias and Hochadel said. “The pandemic exacerbated existing gaps in opportunity and learning experiences between students in well-funded schools and those in chronically underfunded schools. The impacts on students of color, English learners and students with disabilities were particularly acute.”

Dias and Hochadel said that teachers and educators will continue to meet the students where they are and deal with whatever challenges they face. 

They added that teachers “need the support and cooperation of policymakers and education officials, not guidance that permits ineffective approaches like dual teaching, requiring educators to simultaneously teach both in-person and remote students.”

They said the scores alone cannot identify what students need or how best to support them. 

Russell-Tucker touted the monetary support the schools have received over the past two years, including $12 million for summer enrichment programs, $4.5 million for a science of reading masterclass developed in collaboration with the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, and $28 million for mental health services and counseling provided by the Connecticut General Assembly.