Explore Results for the 2019 NAEP Reading Assessment

In 2019, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) administered the reading assessment to representative samples of fourth- and eighth-grade students in the nation, states, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools, and 27 participating large urban districts. At grade 12, the 2019 assessment was administered only at the national level. The reading assessment included literary and informational texts to assess students' reading comprehension skills. Students also answered survey questions about their opportunities to learn and their engagement with reading in and outside of school.

How Did Students Perform in Reading?

In 2019, average reading scores were lower for both fourth- and eighth-grade students compared to 2017: scores were lower by 1 point at fourth grade and lower by 3 points at eighth grade. At grade 12, the average score was 2 points lower in comparison to 2015. Average scores at grades 4 and 8 were higher compared to the first reading assessment in 1992; however, the average score at grade 12 was lower in comparison to 1992.

A summary of results from the most recent reading assessments can be found in the Report Card Highlights.

Detailed Reading Assessment Results

More detailed reading assessment results are available throughout this Report Card.

What reading skills did lower- and higher-performing twelfth-graders demonstrate in 2019?

About the Reading Assessment

How NAEP Assesses Reading

The NAEP reading assessment framework defines reading as a dynamic cognitive process that involves understanding written text, developing and interpreting meaning, and using meaning appropriately for text type and purpose.

  • The NAEP reading framework specifies the use of literary and informational texts to measure students' comprehension skills. The proportion of literary and informational texts varies by grade, with more literary texts at grade 4 and more informational texts at grade 12.
  • Students read grade-appropriate texts reflecting many content areas and respond to both multiple-choice and open-ended questions about the texts they read. By design, the texts used in the assessment require interpretive and critical skills. The reading skills assessed are those that students use in all subject areas in school as well as in their out-of-school reading. Learn more about the NAEP reading framework.
Assessment Design and Administration:
GRADE 4GRADE 8GRADE 12
Assessment periodJanuary to March 2019January to March 2019January to March 2019
Student participation150,600143,10026,700
School participation8,3006,9501,780
Cognitive testing time60 minutes60 minutes60 minutes
Reported resultsBased on student performance on digitally based assessmentBased on student performance on digitally based assessmentBased on combined student performance on paper-based assessments and digitally based assessments
Survey questionnairesAdministered to students, teachers, and school administratorsAdministered to students, teachers, and school administratorsAdministered to students and school administrators
NAEP as an Indicator of Academic Preparedness

Grade 12 is a critical transition point for most American students. Since NAEP is the only source of nationally representative results of twelfth-grade student achievement, the National Assessment Governing Board (the Governing Board) has been conducting research on the potential of NAEP at grade 12 to serve as an indicator of academic preparedness for college. The research results to date support inferences about NAEP performance and academic preparedness for college at the national level. Read more about the Governing Board’s preparedness research.

The Story of NAEP

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a continuing and nationally representative measure of trends in academic achievement of U.S. elementary and secondary students in various subjects. It is the largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what our nation's students know and can do in select subjects. It was first administered in 1969 to measure student achievement nationally. Teachers, principals, parents, policymakers, and researchers all use NAEP results to assess progress and develop ways to improve education in the United States.

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