Skip to main content

Michigan NAEP Results Reflect National Declines Due to the Pandemic

LANSING – Michigan test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reflect declines seen nationally during the pandemic, and state and local education officials are focusing attention on academic recovery strategies, needed legislative action, and continued effort to address the teacher shortage, according to the Michigan Department of Education.

The NAEP tests are given to a sample of students in each state in the nation. Students are tested in math and reading in the fourth and eighth grades. Michigan had approximately 2.6% of its fourth and eighth grade students tested in math and reading from January through March 2022 in approximately 260 school buildings across the state.

Nationally, scores on the NAEP math and reading tests in the fourth and eighth grades were below the scores from 2019, the last year when the NAEP was administered. In fourth grade math and reading nationally, higher-performing students were substantially less adversely affected during the pandemic than lower-performing students. Girls’ test scores were more adversely affected during the pandemic than were boys’ test scores in math and reading, though reading achievement for girls was higher in both 2019 and 2022.

Michigan scores declined, as did national scores and scores of most of the states in the nation.

In a state-by-state comparison, Michigan joined many states whose declines in scores were not statistically significant from the declines of the nation as a whole.

“Statistically, we are not alone nationally. Most states were adversely affected in, and by, the pandemic. That said, instructionally, we have a great deal of work to do,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “In spite of the extraordinary efforts of staff and students, the pandemic was very disruptive to learning. What teachers do daily in classrooms across the state is incredibly important, and disruptions of any sort, let alone those associated with a pandemic, do harm.”

In math, Michigan’s average score dropped from 236.2 in 2019 to 232.2 in 2022 for fourth graders and from 280.3 to 272.6 for eighth graders. Nationally, average scores dropped five points in fourth grade and eight points in eighth grade.

Although the changes were not significantly different from the national average, Michigan improved in state rankings in fourth grade math, now ranked 36th compared to 42nd in 2019. In eighth grade math, Michigan’s ranking rose to 26th in 2022 compared to 28th in 2019.

In reading, Michigan’s average score declined from 218.3 to 211.8 for fourth graders and from 262.6 to 258.5 for eighth graders. Nationally, average scores declined three points in both fourth and eighth grade.

Michigan dropped in state rankings in fourth grade reading, from 32nd in 2019 to 43rd in 2022. In eighth grade reading, Michigan’s ranking dropped to 31st in 2022 compared to 28th in 2019.

Michigan’s English learners scored significantly higher than the average for English learners nationally in 2022 for fourth grade math and reading. Hispanic and Asian students demonstrated improved average scores for fourth grade math in 2022 compared to 2019.

Dr. Rice said there are several actions that can help Michigan students rebound from the effects of the pandemic. Much of this work is ongoing, and more needs to be done.

The state legislature needs to provide greater investments to expand high-quality, frequent tutoring for students, especially in the early grades; to decrease class sizes in early elementary grades, particularly in high poverty communities with large early elementary class sizes; to fund more teachers in LETRS early literacy skills; and to create regional parent and family literacy centers, according to Dr. Rice.

Michigan has more than 3,000 teachers taking LETRS training but needs many more early elementary teachers trained to substantially improve early literacy levels, Dr. Rice said. The state superintendent noted that state investments in LETRS training of $4 million in Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) and $10 million in Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) have been very helpful. He also noted that increased funding of $168 million in FY22 and $34 million in FY23 for Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) to expand pre-school participation would be beneficial to our young readers in the future.

Local and intermediate school districts need to expand the number of children enrolled in GSRP preschool. Local districts need to increase their participation in LETRS training, particularly for early elementary teachers; continue to benefit from accelerated learning professional development and dyslexia guidance from the department; and continue to expand diversity in literature to better engage children in reading, science, social studies, and math.

“Since the NAEP test administration last winter, much has changed,” Dr. Rice said. “We appreciate Governor Whitmer and the state legislature for making very significant investments in education in the historic current year budget approved in July, a major step toward addressing major education underfunding in the state from 1995 to 2015.”

In addition to a $450 per pupil increase in the student foundation allowance, the current year (FY23) budget adds $246 million for students with disabilities, $235 million for economically disadvantaged students, $10 million for career and technical education, $1.3 million for English learners, $575 million to address the teacher shortage, $245 million for children’s mental health, and $210 million for school safety.

“The academic recovery from the pandemic will require time. With increased supports, educators across Michigan are rolling up their sleeves to help children accelerate their learning,” Dr. Rice said.

With appreciation for these investments, Dr. Rice added, the state legislature needs to continue to support efforts to address the teacher shortage in the next two months, including passage of Senate Bill 861 to permit experienced teachers certified in other states to become certified in Michigan more easily; Senate Bill 942 to permit experienced counselors certified in other states to become certified in Michigan more easily; and House Bill 6411 to permit school support staff, under particular conditions, to serve as substitute teachers.