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Alabama schools aren’t last in reading and math on the new national report card. What changed?

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Alabama’s fourth-grade students topped other states in the National Education Progress Assessment rankings, according to results released Monday.

The simple reason? Alabama students held steady scores while other states’ scores dropped dramatically. In other words, the nation’s misery is Alabama’s gain.

Still, improving national rankings is a lot of work, officials said ahead of Monday’s announcement, from the individual school to the state level.

“Getting our NAEP scores like this helps us on the national stage,” State Superintendent Eric Mackey said. And that helps recruit teachers and businesses to Alabama, he added.

“It helps to show the right message: that we are focused on academic achievement and improvement.”

Staying stable on the scores took a lot of work, Mackey said, given the challenges of the pandemic. The scores were last released in 2019. Since then, education officials have aligned state standards and the annual standardized test with what’s tested on the NAEP, which Mackey said isn’t have ever been made in Alabama.

Alabama fourth-grade students’ scores rose in reading and math, bucking the declining trend for the majority of the country. Alabama was one of the few states to raise math scores and two dozen to do so in reading.

Eighth-grade scores were stable in reading, but fell — like in every other state — in math.

“The results show the heavy toll on student learning during the pandemic, as the scale and magnitude of the declines are the largest ever in math,” said the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. , Peggy Carr.

Describing the national results as “appalling and unacceptable”, US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona called on schools to do more to help students recover during a press call with reporters.

“This is a moment of truth for education. How we respond to this will determine not only our recovery, but also our nation’s standing in the world. »

Calling for “bold action”, Cardona said schools must raise the bar.

“We know what to do. We got into this business to make a difference for children. We need the best of everyone now.

Even though experts caution against ranking states against each other because the test was designed for states to measure their own progress over time, Alabama’s poor NAEP results have been criticized for years.

In that regard, Mackey said he feels good about where Alabama’s scores put the state. “We are definitely in a better position than three years ago,” he said, referring to the 2019 NAEP results.

“Compared to other states, we’ve gained a lot of ground,” Mackey said. “We think we have the right plans. We are on the right trajectory. Now we need to press the gas and keep it going, because other states will also try to recover from the pandemic. »

The ranks of Alabama’s fourth-graders have skyrocketed:

  • In math, the state’s ranking fell from last 52nd to 40th as the average test score rose by less than a point, and
  • In reading, Alabama’s ranking jumped from 49th to 39th, with the average score up nearly 2 points.

Click here if you cannot see the table below showing Alabama’s fourth grade reading and math scores and the national public school average for 2022 and 2019.

Eighth-grade scores pulled Alabama further:

  • In math, the state’s ranking dropped from 52nd to 47th, even with an average score drop of 4 points, and
  • In reading, Alabama’s average score dropped three points, but that kept the state in 49th place, ahead of the District of Columbia, West Virginia and New Mexico.

Click here if you cannot see the table below showing Alabama’s eighth grade reading and math scores and the national public school average for 2022 and 2019.

All state scores are available at the national newsletter website.

The NAEP was given to just under 2,000 students — randomly selected and statistically strong — across Alabama in early 2022, delayed a year earlier due to the pandemic. It will be handed over in 2024.

Although the NAEP gives tests in civics and other subjects, this is the only set of NAEP scores broken down by state. The current version of NAEP was first published in 1990, and all states began participating in NAEP in 2003.