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Report: Reading and Math Skills of 13-Year-Olds See Decline

Reading and mathematics skills of 13-year-olds have declined, according to findings from The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)’s NAEP long-term trend (LTT) reading and math assessments.Denise ForteDenise Forte

The tests – given October-December 2022 – found that average scores for 13-year-olds declined in reading (4 points) and in math (9 points) compared to the last assessment, which was given during the 2019–20 school year. The scores also saw a decrease, 7 points in reading and 14 points in math, when compared to a decade ago.

“We are deeply disturbed but are not surprised by the 2023 NAEP Long-Term Trend assessment results for 13-year-olds released today,” said Denise Forte, president and CEO of Ed Trust. “Unfinished learning continues to weigh on students across all grades and subjects, and this is especially true for Black and Latino students, English learners, and students from low-income backgrounds who experienced the brunt of pandemic-related upheaval and uncertainties. Now is the time for education leaders and advocates to work together to give students what they need by marshaling evidence-based resources to provide high-quality learning experiences so every student can live their chosen life.”

Black and Latino students interested in STEM are not given access to advanced coursework from elementary through high school, Forte said. And middle school students of color and students from low-income backgrounds are not given equitable access to rigorous coursework, such as advanced STEM courses, according to Ed Trust.

“While the nation is experiencing this profound learning loss, there is a dangerous movement being advanced by some lawmakers to continually deny students access to quality education by limiting how race and related topics are discussed in schools, including removing diverse books and texts from the classroom,” Forte said. “These misguided efforts limit academic progress for all students and must be stopped.”

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