National Student Group Scores and Score Gaps

Student Group Score Trends
Scores lower on average for many student groups compared to 2017

While many student groups had lower average scores in 2019, fourth-grade English language learners scored higher in 2019 in comparison to 2017.

Across student groups average fourth-grade reading scores in 2019 were lower for the following student groups:

  • White and Black students;
  • male students;
  • students eligible and not eligible for the National School Lunch Program;
  • public school students;
  • public, noncharter school students;
  • students in suburban and rural locations;
  • students in the Northeast, Midwest, and South;
  • students identified and not identified as having a disability; and
  • students not identified as English language learners.

In comparison to 1992, however, average fourth-grade reading scores were higher for the following student groups:

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

See trends in average scores for selected student groups by clicking on the thumbnails within the drop-downs below. Scroll down the page to find out how percentages of student groups have changed over time.

The Type of School drop-down below presents the results for Catholic schools (a subcategory of private schools) and public schools. In 2019, results for private schools overall did not meet the minimum participation rate guideline for reporting, and therefore are not included here. See more information about years with available data by type of school and other student demographic groups.

Trend in fourth-grade NAEP reading average scores, by selected student groups
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Score Gap Trends
Smaller score gap between White and Hispanic students compared to 2017

The 21-point score difference between White and Hispanic students in 2019 was smaller in comparison to the 23-point difference in 2017 but was not significantly different from the gap in 1992. The 27-point score difference between White and Black students was not significantly different compared to 2017, the previous assessment year; however, it was smaller than the 32-point gap in 1992, the first assessment year. In 2019, the average score for Asian/Pacific Islander students at grade 4 was 7 points higher than the average score for their White peers. This 7-point score gap was not significantly different compared to 2017. Whereas in 1992, White fourth-grade students outperformed Asian/Pacific Islanders on average by 8 points.

In addition, the 7-point gap between female and male students increased with male scores declining over the same period.

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Group Population Percentages
Demographic changes in student populations

Compared to the previous assessment year in 2017, the percentages of fourth-grade students who have taken the NAEP reading assessment have changed for selected student groups. For example, the percentage of students who were identified as students with disabilities was higher in 2019 compared to 2017, as was the percentage of students who were identified as English language learners. In comparison to the first assessment year in 1992, the percentages of fourth-graders in various student groups who took the NAEP reading assessment in 2019 have also changed. For example, the percentages of White and Black students were lower while the percentages of Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander students were higher compared to 1992. Select a student group from the drop-down menu to view changes in the percentage distribution for that group over time.

Read about changes in NAEP's reporting for racial/ethnic groups.

YearWhiteBlackHispanicAsian/​Pacific IslanderAsianNative Hawaiian/​Other Pacific IslanderAmerican Indian/​Alaska NativeTwo or More Races
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