Academic Progress Regresses For New Jersey Students

Trenton, NJ — Results from the semi-annual National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) were released this morning. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), first administered in 1969, is the largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what our nation’s students know and can do in subjects such as mathematics, reading, science, and writing. The results of NAEP are released as The Nation’s Report Card, and are available for the nation, states, and in some cases, urban districts. Teachers, principals, parents, policymakers, and researchers all use NAEP results to assess progress and develop ways to improve education in the United States.

“After years of steady improvement, the results provided by NAEP today are disheartening.” said Patricia Morgan, Executive Director of JerseyCAN. “These declines and the persisting achievement gap are warning signs that our state must not abandon our focus on high expectations for student performance, as measured by assessments that provide an honest picture of student progress. Moving forward, we need to look closely at what worked in those earlier years and redouble our efforts in those areas.”

Despite New Jersey’s reputation as an educational leader, New Jersey saw declines in three out of four tested areas: 4th grade reading, 8th grade reading, and 4th grade math.

  • New Jersey lost the most points in the nation for 4th grade reading, declining from an average score of 233 to 227. This significant statistical difference drove New Jersey’s tied-ranking on 4th grade reading from first in the nation to tied for third in the nation.
  • Eight grade reading also saw significant statistical declines with our average score dropping to 270 from 275. New Jersey’s ranking as tied for second in the nation stayed the same despite this significant statistical decline.
  • Student scores on 4th grade math were also slightly down, with the average scaled score of 246 compared to 248 in 2017. While there was no significant statistical difference in student performance, New Jersey’s ranking dropped from tied for first to tied for second; meaning that other state’s are pulling ahead of New Jersey in 4th grade math,
  • In 8th grade math, the average student score was 292, the same as in 2017. There was no significant statistical difference, but New Jersey moved up in ranking from tied for second in the nation to tied for first; meaning that New Jersey moved-up in rankings because other states performed more poorly.

Moving beyond state averages, there are also troubling data that demonstrate that significant achievement gaps still persist in math and reading for Black students, Hispanic students, and free and reduced price lunch eligible students. However, 4th and 8th grade female students did outperform their male counterparts in reading compared to 2017.

Morgan added, “What the NAEP results continue to show is that New Jersey must strive to be better. Far too many students in vulnerable communities don’t have access to the education they deserve . Equity in education must be a primary goal for all of us.”

# # #

JerseyCAN: The New Jersey Campaign for Achievement Now is a nonprofit education research and advocacy organization that advocates for a high-quality education for all New Jersey kids, regardless of their address. Learn more at


Recent Posts