Children taking examThe National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) is a nationwide assessment of students’ knowledge in a variety of subjects and is often referred to as the nation’s report card. These assessments cover a variety of subjects such as mathematics, writing, science, civics, reading, geography, U.S. History, and more. The NAEP is a standardized assessment sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education with tests that remain almost unchanged from one year to another; this provides a common metric to use when measuring the academic progress of students in various subjects over the course of time. The NAEP makes it possible to compare the performance of students in various states as well as across the nation.

According to NAEP results, California has out paced the rest of the nation by showing the most progress for the years ranging from 2009 to 2017. While the rest of the country has shown almost no gains during this time period, California’s NAEP scores for 8th grade math as well as 4th and 8th grade reading, have improved significantly. In fact, the increase in 8th grade reading scores are the highest in the nation with growth for 8th grade math scores tied for second place, and the increase in 4th grade reading scores also tied for second place.

NAEP scores for 4th grade math showed the least amount of growth; however, these math scores did show an increase while the NAEP scores for students in a number of other states actually fell. These rising NAEP scores indicate that students in the state of California are now approaching the national average, a significant improvement given the fact that California has a high number of children that come from low income families as well as the highest rate of English learners in the country.

While there are a number of factors that have contributed to the rise in NAEP scores for California students, one striking change that seems to be at the center of this impressive period of growth is the implementation of Common Core standards. Comparing the current scores to the NAEP scores taken from 2009 to 2017 were important indicators of how the switch to a Common Core education might have been a key factor in helping bring students in California closer to the national average.


A closer look at California’s impressive educational performance