Press Release


Contact: Mariel Matze, [email protected], 650-380-1973 


The Education Trust–West Responds to Release of 2022 Annual NAEP Results 

OAKLAND, Calif. — Dr. Christopher J. Nellum, Executive Director of The Education Trust–West, issued the following statement in response to the release of 2022 results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as “The Nation’s Report Card.”

This year’s NAEP scores, the first comprehensive national “report card” to reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, show us that California’s academic recovery is on the right track. But especially because we’ve lost years of progress toward narrowing racial equity gaps in education, the path forward requires California to continue investing its resources in the communities hit hardest by the pandemic.

NAEP results show that California’s unacceptable equity gaps have remained stark, despite it having avoided plunges in overall scores. The state’s overall reading scores held steady while math scores backslid, but less so than they did nationally. With 8th-grade reading scores improving in contrast to declines in many major metropolitan areas, Los Angeles arose as a beacon of promise from which other cities may be able to learn. Yet when broken down by student group, NAEP scores show us what we already knew: the students who bore the brunt of the pandemic’s economic and health challenges––Black, Latinx, Native, and Asian students––also bore the brunt of its academic challenges. As a result, some equity gaps yawn as wide as they did a decade ago.

As California’s budget and legislative seasons approach, we hope to see resources go where they are needed most. We must cultivate a teaching workforce that reflects the mighty racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity of California. We must offer students rigorous coursework that affirms their identities and communities. We must incubate the wealth of multilingualism that our students bring to school every day and invest in STEM education that opens California’s famed STEM fields to all Californians. And because too many children have experienced stress, loneliness, or loss, we must ensure each of them has strong relationships with their school community and that we tend to their socialemotional needs. Recent budget and legislative support have embodied this spirit; we hope elected officials and school administrators will carry that same boldness into the current school year.  

Like all data, these assessment results tell us a lot, but not everything. Data across the years show us the extent of the pandemic’s impact on student learning. Data across states offers a national context that can urge us to consider what’s possible. They offer parents information about their children’s learning that families want and deserve. But they only capture the beginnings of the recovery that any teacher or principal would tell you is happening on campus.  

The COVID-19 pandemic cruelly demonstrated the correlation between opportunity and achievement. Fewer resources mean fewer academic gains. Less access to quality instruction means less learning. But that correlation is cause for hope—and continued support: with more time in school, students can recuperate all they missed. With more support, those schools can even accelerate students’ learning. For students from communities with greater need, that will require more resources—but California’s economy, now almost fourth in the world, is strong enough to make those crucial investments in the future today. 

Simply put, when given sufficient resources and opportunities, schools and students will thrive. If we let that truism guide our support for California schools, the harm of the COVID-19 pandemic can become a temporary, if painful, setback. 

Among the key results of the NAEP for the state of California: 

  • In 2022, the average math score for 8th-grade students in California (270) was 6 points lower than in 2019 (276) and 3 points lower than the national average (273). The average math score for 4th-grade students in California (230) was 5 points lower in 2022 than the national average (235) and also represented a 5point decrease compared to their average score in 2019 (235).
  • Gaps in proficiency that reflect gaps in educational opportunities and supports persist, in many cases remaining as wide in 2022 as they were over a decade ago. In 2022, for example, Black students had an average 4thgrade math score that was 31 points lower than that for white students, and Latinx students had a score that was 27 points lower than that for white students. Neither performance gap was significantly different than in 2000.  
  • In addition to racial equity gaps, socioeconomic equity gaps also persist. Students who were eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) had an average 4th-grade math score that was 32 points lower than those who were not eligible. In 8th-grade math, the gap is even wider at 36 points.  
  • The average reading scores for California’s 4th and 8th graders did not change significantly between 2019 and 2022. The fact that these scores held relatively steady despite learning disruptions bodes well for learning recovery efforts, but unacceptable equity gaps remain. In 2022, Black students had an average 4th-grade reading score that was 37 points lower than that of white students, and an 8th-grade reading score that was 23 points lower than that of white students.  


About The Education Trust–West 

The Education Trust–West works for educational justice and the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-K through college, in the state of California. We expose opportunity and achievement gaps that separate students of color and low-income students from other youth, and we identify and advocate for the strategies that will forever close those gaps.