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Connecticut Math and Reading Test Scores Dropped During Pandemic

 

Connecticut test scores in reading and mathematics dropped faster than the national average according to a 2022 assessment released by the Nation’s Report Card. 

Last administered in 2019 prior to the pandemic, fourth- and eighth-grade students nationwide took the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) with average scores dipping across the board by 3 points in both fourth- and eighth-grade reading, 5 points in fourth-grade mathematics and 8 points in eighth-grade mathematics. 

Connecticut students, in each respective category, fared worse than the national averages — falling by 5 points (fourth-grade reading); 6 points (eighth-grade reading); 7 points (fourth-grade mathematics); and 10 points (eighth-grade mathematics). The Constitution State, however, did not suffer the most significant drops with Virginia (-10), Maine (-8), Delaware (-14), and Oklahoma (-13) outpacing the race to the bottom, respectively.  

Connecticut’s scores are relatively the norm as most states experienced score drops. None of state’s results in any category and age-group fell below the NAEP’s “basic” level or the national average. However, those numbers suffered the largest performance dips since the national assessment began in 1990. (See in Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4 below) 

The NAEP scores mirror the Connecticut Department of Education’s (CSDE) findings released in August, which found “some signs of learning acceleration and recovery, however, overall student achievement still lags pre-pandemic levels.” The study posits the recovery time for several grade levels, indicating that students in grade 4 and 5 may be 2-3 months behind their “expected performance,” middle schoolers may be 5-7 months behind in English Language Arts (ELA) and “a year or more behind in math.” 

The dispiriting results are compounded with the Heritage Foundation’s Education Report Card, which ranked Connecticut dead last in “return on investment in education spending.” For reference, Connecticut spent $21,346 per pupil in fiscal year 2020, ranking behind New York and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  

To combat the lag, the CSDE is utilizing tens of millions of dollars from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds toward summer enrichment programs, a Science of Reading (SOR) Masterclass, and special education recovery activities among other initiatives. Additionally, the Connecticut General Assembly appropriated $28 million that will support districts to add additional school mental health staff.  

Hopefully, the actions underway are not simply throwing more money at a problem and awaiting the results, as the Heritage Foundation report suggests. If NAEP’s scores are any indication, the state cannot fail our students, dooming them to a life of playing “catch-up.”  

 

FIGURE 1: Trend in NAEP mathematics average scores for fourth-grade public school students in Connecticut and nation (public) 

 

Year  Nation (public)  Connecticut 
2022  235  236 
2019  240*  243* 
2017  239*  239 
2015  240*  240* 
2013  241*  243* 
2011  240*  242* 
2009  239*  245* 
2007  239*  243* 
2005  237*  242* 
2003  234  241* 
2000  224*  234 
20001  226*  234 
19961  222*  232* 
19921  219*  227* 
19901  212*   

 

NAEP achievement level  Cut score 
NAEP Advanced  282 
NAEP Proficient  249 
NAEP Basic  214 

 

FIGURE 2: Trend in NAEP mathematics average scores for eighth-grade public school students in Connecticut and nation (public) 

 

Year  Nation (public)  Connecticut 
2022  273  276 
2019  281*  286* 
2017  282*  284* 
2015  281*  284* 
2013  284*  285* 
2011  283*  287* 
2009  282*  289* 
2007  280*  282* 
2005  278*  281* 
2003  276*  284* 
2000  272  281* 
20001  274  282* 
19961  271  280 
19921  267*  274 
19901  262*  270* 

 

NAEP achievement level  Cut score 
NAEP Advanced  333 
NAEP Proficient  299 
NAEP Basic  262 

 

FIGURE 3: Trend in NAEP reading average scores for fourth-grade public school students in Connecticut and nation (public) 

 

Year  Nation (public)  Connecticut 
2022  216  219 
2019  219*  224* 
2017  221*  228* 
2015  221*  229* 
2013  221*  230* 
2011  220*  227* 
2009  220*  229* 
2007  220*  227* 
2005  217*  226* 
2003  216  228* 
2002  217  229* 
1998  213*  230* 
19981  215  232* 
19941  212*  222 
19921  215  222 

 

NAEP achievement level  Cut score 
NAEP Advanced  268 
NAEP Proficient  238 
NAEP Basic  208 

 

FIGURE 4: Trend in NAEP reading average scores for eighth-grade public school students in Connecticut and nation (public) 

 

Year  Nation (public)  Connecticut 
2022  259  264 
2019  262*  270* 
2017  265*  273* 
2015  264*  273* 
2013  266*  274* 
2011  264*  275* 
2009  262*  272* 
2007  261*  267 
2005  260*  264 
2003  261*  267* 
2002  263*  267 
1998  261  270* 
19981  261*  272* 
19941  257   
19921  258   

 

NAEP achievement level  Cut score 
NAEP Advanced  323 
NAEP Proficient  281 
NAEP Basic  243 

 

Andrew Fowler

Andrew Fowler joined Yankee Institute in July 2022 after four years in the communications department for the Knights of Columbus international headquarters in New Haven. In that span, he managed the organization’s social media accounts and wrote for the company’s various publications, including COLUMBIA magazine, which is delivered to nearly two million members. Additionally, he is the curator of the Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center’s online exhibit “K of C Baseball: An American Story,” that explores the intricate ties between the organization and the growth of the national pastime. He was also a production assistant for MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and the 2016 Dinesh D’Souza film, “Hillary’s America.” Andrew currently serves on the Milford Board of Education. He is an avid runner and basketball fan, cinephile, and an aspiring musician and author. He graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2015.

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