Alabama's fourth and eighth-grade mathematics scores have lacked improvement since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in its 2022 Nation's Report Card released on Monday.

The NAEP is a congressionally mandated program overseen by the U.S. Department of Education that monitors student achievement in various subjects, including reading, math, science, writing, arts, civics and more.

For every two years since 1990, it has issued an annual Nation's Report Card, though this report was not issued in 2020 or 2021. The report card details the findings of the NAEP assessments, which are administered to representative samples of students across the country.

Both public and private schools are included in the study as well as Department of Defense schools and Bureau of Indian Education schools. All 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, are included in the study,

The 2022 NAEP mathematics assessment was administered between January and March 2022.

Alabama's average fourth-grade mathematics scores remained the same from 2019 to 2020 but dropped five points for eighth graders.

Despite the lack of improvement, Alabama's fourth and eighth graders rank higher than they did in 2019 compared to other states.

Alabama wasn't the only state in which average scores declined throughout the pandemic. In fact, a majority of states saw a drop in scores for fourth and eighth graders between 2019 and 2022.

Nationally, this was the largest decline in mathematics scores in the fourth and eighth grades since the NAEP began assessing students in 1990.

In 2022, the average fourth-grade mathematics score decreased by five points, and the average eighth-grade mathematics score decreased by eight points. 

In 2019, Alabama's fourth graders had the lowest math scores of any state. Puerto Rico was the only jurisdiction that ranked lower. In 2020, Alabama's fourth graders came in 14th in the study after other states dropped in the rankings.

Alabama's eighth graders also ranked second only to Puerto Rico in 2019 but ranked fifth in 2022.

According to more NAEP data, Alabama's fourth graders decreased by one point in reading, and eighth graders decreased by two points.

State Superintendent Eric Mackey addressed the new math and reading scores in a brief press conference on Monday. He said that the state will be breaking the data down by district by subgroups in the future but that the scores match the results of state testing.

Mackey applauded Alabama for getting children back in the classroom again after schools closed due to COVID.

"There is nothing more important than having a teacher in front of a student in the classroom," Mackey said. "...As quickly as we could, we moved all our students back in the classroom ... We're very pleased with the work that's been done, and we will continue moving forward."

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