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K-12 Education  >  National Measures of Achievement
 
Reading Proficiency as Compared with that in Science and Math
(Updated January 2017)

While the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) long-term trend assessment (the basis of the indicators under Trends in Basic Reading Skills among School-Age Children) provides an assessment of basic skills, the main NAEP reading assessment evaluates fourth-, eighth-, and 12th-grade students’ ability to tackle more-demanding reading tasks that are in line with current curricula.

Findings and Trends

  • In 2015, a majority of students at each grade level failed to demonstrate proficiency in reading, math, or science.
  • Among fourth graders, 36% of students demonstrated reading skills at or above the proficient level in 2015, while 31% displayed below basic skills (Indicator I-1d).
  • The proportion of eighth and 12th graders demonstrating at least proficiency on the reading assessment was similar to that of their younger counterparts. In the upper grades, students were somewhat less likely than fourth graders to demonstrate very low reading achievement (Indicators I-1e and I-1f).
  • In 2015, fourth-grade students performed better on the math assessment than on the reading, with a share demonstrating below basic skills that was 13 percentage points smaller than that for reading.
  • Among eighth graders, reading performance was similar to that in math and science in 2015.
  • At the 12th-grade level, students performed better in reading than in either science or math in 2015.
  • At the two lower grade levels the improvement in student math achievement from the early 1990s to 2015 was considerably greater than that in reading. The percentage of students scoring at the proficient level or higher on the math assessment rose 27 percentage points from 1990 to 2015 at the fourth-grade level and 18 percentage points among eighth graders. In contrast, the improvement in reading was only eight percentage points for fourth graders and five percentage points for eighth graders over the same time period.
  • Among 12th graders, reading achievement declined somewhat from 1992 to 2015, while math achievement was virtually unchanged between 2005 (the earliest year for which data are available) and 2015.
  • Active Data Visualization I-1v allows users to compare states according to the share of their fourth and eighth grade students that demonstrated reading proficiency on the 2015 NAEP reading assessment.
I-1d: Percentages of Fourth Graders Scoring at Reading Achievement Levels Compared with Those for Math and Science, Early 1990s–2015*

* NAEP main assessment. Percentages for each year may not sum to 100 due to rounding.
** Accommodations not permitted in this year.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Data accessed via the NAEP Data Explorer at https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/about/naeptools.aspx. Data presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org).

About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/indI-1d.xls../cmsData/ppt/indI-1d.ppt../cmsData/pdf/indI-1d.pdf
I-1e: Percentages of Eighth Graders Scoring at Reading Achievement Levels Compared with Those for Math and Science, Early 1990s–2015*

* NAEP main assessment. Percentages for each year may not sum to 100 due to rounding.
** Accommodations not permitted in this year.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Data accessed via the NAEP Data Explorer at https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/about/naeptools.aspx. Data presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org).

About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/indI-1e.xls../cmsData/ppt/indI-1e.ppt../cmsData/pdf/indI-1e.pdf
I-1f: Percentages of 12th Graders Scoring at Reading Achievement Levels Compared with Those for Math and Science, Early 1990s–2015*

* NAEP main assessment. Percentages for each year may not sum to 100 due to rounding.
** Accommodations not permitted in this year.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Data accessed via the NAEP Data Explorer at https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/about/naeptools.aspx. Data presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org).

About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/indI-1f.xls../cmsData/ppt/indI-1f.ppt../cmsData/pdf/indI-1f.pdf
I-1v: Share of Fourth and Eighth Graders Demonstrating Reading Proficiency, by State, 2015

* Noted differences are statistically significant at 5% level. The states whose bars are shaded grey had shares of proficient students that were not measurably different from the share of all US students scoring that that level or above. Proficiency is as measured by the NAEP main assessment.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Data accessed via the NAEP Data Explorer at https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/about/naeptools.aspx. Data presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org).