Mathematics: Higher- and Lower-Performing Students

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Overall Percentile Scores

Higher scores at all selected percentiles compared to 1978; lower scores compared to 2012 for lower-performing students

NAEP scores are reported at five selected percentiles to show the progress made by lower- (10th and 25th percentiles), middle- (50th percentile), and higher- (75th and 90th percentiles) performing students. 

In comparison to 1978, the 2020 mathematics scores were higher for 9-year-old students at all selected percentiles. Compared to 2012, however, mathematics scores were lower for lower-performing students (i.e., those at the 10th and 25th percentiles).

Figure | Trend in NAEP long-term trend mathematics scores at five selected percentiles for 9-year-old students
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Scalescore080100120140160180200220240260280300320340500Assessment Year'78'82'86'90'92'94'96'99'04'08'12'20'20<  Drag to change focal years  >
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Percentile Scores by Student Groups
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Percentile Scores by Student Groups

Higher scores across all selected percentiles for racial/ethnic and gender groups compared to 1978

At all selected percentile levels, the 2020 scores for White, Black, and Hispanic 9-year-old students were higher compared to 1978. This was also true for both male and female 9-year-olds and for 9-year-old students in a grade below fourth grade and in grade 4 (the grade typical for their age).

In comparison to 2012, nine-year-old female students scored lower at all of the selected percentiles except for the 90th percentile. In addition, 9-year-olds at the grade typical for their age (fourth grade) performing at the 10th percentile scored lower in 2020.