National Achievement-Level Results

Overall NAEP Achievement Levels
Thirty-five percent of fourth-graders at or above NAEP Proficient lower compared to 2017

Thirty-five percent of fourth-grade students performed at or above the NAEP Proficient level on the reading assessment in 2019. This percentage was 1 percentage point lower compared to 2017 but was 7 percentage points higher in comparison to 1992, the first reading assessment year.

Sixty-six percent of fourth-grade students performed at or above the NAEP Basic level in 2019. This percentage was 1 percentage point lower compared to 2017 but was 4 percentage points higher compared to 1992. Nine percent of fourth graders performed at the NAEP Advanced level in 2019, which was not significantly different from 2017 and 3 percentage points higher in comparison to 1992.

NAEP achievement levels are performance standards that describe what students should know and be able to do. Results are reported as percentages of students performing at or above three achievement levels (NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced). Students performing at or above the NAEP Proficient level on NAEP assessments demonstrate solid academic performance and competency over challenging subject matter. It should be noted that the NAEP Proficient achievement level does not represent grade-level proficiency as determined by other assessment standards (e.g., state or district assessments). NAEP achievement levels are to be used on a trial basis and should be interpreted and used with caution. Find out more about the NAEP reading achievement levels.

Scroll down to explore NAEP achievement-level results for student groups.

Read about NAEP achievement-level setting
Show

NAEP achievement-level setting is based on the judgments of a broadly representative panel of teachers, education specialists, and members of the general public. The authorizing legislation for NAEP requires that the achievement levels be used on a trial basis until the Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) determines that the achievement levels are reasonable, valid, and informative to the public (20 USC § 9622(e)(2)(C)). The NCES Commissioner’s determination is to be based on a congressionally mandated, rigorous, and independent evaluation. The latest evaluation of the achievement levels was conducted by a committee convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in 2016. The evaluation concluded that further evidence should be gathered to determine whether the achievement levels are reasonable, valid, and informative. Accordingly, the NCES Commissioner determined that the trial status of the achievement levels should be maintained at this time. Read more about how NAEP achievement levels are set. In 2018, the National Assessment Governing Board issued a revised Policy Statement clarifying that the NAEP Proficient level is not intended to reflect grade-level performance expectations but is specific to performance on NAEP assessments. Read the Governing Board Policy Statement.

The chart below lists the percentages of fourth-grade students performing at each of the NAEP reading achievement levels in 2019 and previous assessment years. Set the baseline at either NAEP Basic or NAEP Proficient to see the percentages of students performing at or above that NAEP achievement level. Click "Show NAEP achievement-level details" to see the percentages of fourth-grade students at each of the NAEP achievement levels. Click "Hide NAEP achievement-level details" to see the percentages of students at or above the selected baseline NAEP achievement level. Use the slider to change focal years.

NAEP Achievement Levels by Student Group
Lower percentage of male students at or above NAEP Proficient in grade 4 reading compared to 2017

In 2019, the percentages of fourth-grade students who performed at or above NAEP Proficient in reading were not significantly different for most reported student groups compared to 2017; however, the percentages were lower for the following student groups:

  • male students;
  • public school and charter school students;
  • students attending schools in the Northeast; and
  • students who were not identified as English language learners.

The percentage of fourth-graders identified as English language learners at or above NAEP Basic was higher in 2019 than in 2017. However, the percentages of fourth-grade students who performed at or above the NAEP Basic level in reading were lower for many student groups in comparison to 2017. For example, the percentages performing at or above NAEP Basic were lower in 2019 than in 2017 for the following student groups:

  • White and Black students;
  • male students;
  • students eligible and not eligible for the National School Lunch Program;
  • students attending public schools;
  • students in the Northeast, Midwest, and South regions; and
  • students identified as having disabilities.

Compared to the first assessment year in 1992, the percentages performing at or above the NAEP Basic and at or above the NAEP Proficient levels were higher in 2019 for the following student groups:

  • White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander students;
  • male and female students; and
  • students attending public schools.

The chart below lists the percentages of fourth-grade students performing at each of the NAEP reading achievement levels in 2019 and previous assessment years. Set the baseline at either NAEP Basic or NAEP Proficient to see the percentages of students performing at or above that NAEP achievement level. Click "Show NAEP achievement-level details" to see the percentages of fourth-grade students at each of the NAEP achievement levels. Click "Hide NAEP achievement-level details" to see the percentages of students at or above the selected baseline NAEP achievement level. Use the slider to change focal years.