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Summary of Major Findings


Reading scores up since 2007 at grade 8 but unchanged at grade 4Compared to 2007, average reading scores for public school students in 2009 increased at both grades in Kentucky; increased at grade 4 only in the District of Columbia and Rhode Island; decreased at grade 4 only in Alaska, Iowa, and Wyoming; increased at grade 8 only in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Utah; decreased at grade 4 but increased at grade 8 in New Mexico; and showed no significant change at either grade in 38 states and jurisdictions.

Nationally representative samples of more than 178,000 fourth-graders and 160,000 eighth-graders participated in the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading. At each grade, students responded to questions designed to measure their knowledge of reading comprehension across two types of texts: literary and informational.

  • At grade 4, the average reading score in 2009 was unchanged from the score in 2007 but was higher than the scores in other earlier assessment years from 1992 to 2005.
  • At grade 8, the average reading score in 2009 was one point higher than in 2007 and four points higher than in 1992 but was not consistently higher than in all the
    assessment years in between.
  • About two-thirds (67 percent) of fourth-graders performed at or above Basic level in 2009, and one-third (33 percent) performed at or above Proficient. Both percentages were unchanged from 2007 but were higher than previous assessment years.
  • In 2009, about three-quarters (75 percent) of eighth-graders performed at or above Basic level, and one-third (32 percent) performed at or above Proficient. Both percentages were higher than 2007 and 1992.
  • Compared to 2007, there have been no significant changes in the racial/ethnic gaps, gender gaps, or gaps by type of school at either grade.
  • Scores increased in three states/jurisdictions at grade 4 and nine states at grade 8.


The NAEP reading framework used to create the content for the 2009 assessment replaces the reading framework from earlier assessments in 1992–2007. Results from special analyses determined that even with a new framework, the 2009 reading assessment results could be compared to those from earlier assessment years. A summary of these special analyses and an overview of the differences between the old and new frameworks are available.

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