Graph shows Alaska average fourth grade reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, compared to the national average. (Graph provided by the National Assessment of Educational Progress/

Graph shows Alaska average fourth grade reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, compared to the national average. (Graph provided by the National Assessment of Educational Progress/

Alaska students falling short in reading, math, national report finds

Also known as “the Nation’s report card,” the report is a snapshot of American educational achievement.

Alaska’s fourth and eighth graders scored below the national average in both reading and math, according to national test results released Wednesday.

The National Assessment for Educational Progress, also known as “the Nation’s report card,” is a snapshot of American educational achievement. The test is taken every two years by a sample of fourth and eighth graders across the country. The assessment is focused on gauging achievement levels in reading and math. The National Assessment for Educational Progress is the only test seeking to track long-term student achievement nationally.

For the second year in a row, Alaska fourth graders placed last in the nation for reading scores, with an average score of 204. Last year, Alaska’s score was higher, at 207. The average score for the nation was 219. In eighth grade reading, Alaska placed third to last, ahead of New Mexico and District of Columbia.

In math, Alaskan fourth and eighth graders placed within the lowest-scoring 10 states.

In fourth grade math, Alaska was fifth from last, and only ahead of West Virginia, Louisiana, New Mexico and Alabama.

Only a quarter of Alaska students in fourth grade performed at or above a proficient level in reading, and 33% of fourth graders in Alaska performed at or above a proficient level in math. Only 23% of eighth graders performed at or above a proficient level in reading, and 29% of eighth graders performed at or above a proficient level in math.

Female fourth graders tested for reading in Alaska had an average score higher than male students by 8 points. Alaska female eighth graders tested for reading had a higher average score than male students by 11 points. Male eighth graders in Alaska tested for math had average scores higher than their female counterparts by 5 points.

Eighth graders had lower scores in both reading and in math compared to their scores during the last national assessment in 2017. Fourth graders had a lower score in reading compared to the 2017 scores, but their math scores improved slightly from the 2017 results.

Alaska Education Commissioner Dr. Michael Johnson said in a Wednesday press release that the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development is focusing on third grade reading proficiency.

“A large achievement gap continues to exist and the work to improve outcomes for all students must continue,” Johnson said. “For the second time in a row, Alaska has ranked last out of all 50 states in grade 4 reading. Our dissatisfaction with these results must drive us to abandon the status quo and reach for the kind of innovation our students need. Our number one policy priority in the department is to support all students to read at grade level by the end of third grade.”

NAEP was administered to students as a digitally based assessment in 2019, the state’s release said. In Alaska, each of the four assessments included approximately 2,200 students in about 250 schools, the release said.

Data from the assessment can be used by educators and researched to evaluate public schools and to find trends in student demographics. “We must insist on better educational outcomes for our children,” Gov. Michael Dunleavy said in the state’s release.

“We must use these results as an opportunity to increase our sense of urgency and be willing to move beyond the idea that more money, without changes to the way we provide education, will produce different results.”

Results from the exam will not appear on any school transcripts or impact any student’s ability to advance to the next grade or graduate.

To view full results, visit

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