America’s Gradebook:
How Does Your State Stack Up?

Often called the “nation’s report card,” the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading and mathematics assessments are administered to a representative sample of fourth- and eighth-grade students in each state every two years. NAEP scores offer something rare in education policy: data that are standardized across states and across time. Policymakers and pundits seize upon these data as evidence to support their preferred policies. But comparing NAEP scores assumes that states serve the same students—and we know they don’t.

A better way to compare and talk about NAEP performance is to use adjusted NAEP scores that account for demographic differences across students in each state. These adjusted scores allow for students to be compared with their demographically similar peers using factors such as race, receipt of special education services, and status as an English language learner. These are factors we know can affect test results, yet they are not shown in NAEP scores. The interactive tool below brings those adjusted NAEP scores to life.

Updated March 2, 2020, to include a link to download the full dataset.
Note: On October 24, 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics released National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for 2022, including performance by state on the fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading assessments. In the past, we have updated this tool when new scores are released by applying an adjustment based on prior student-level data to the new state average scores (the new student-level data are typically released 18 months later). This estimated adjustment relied on assumptions about the stability of student demographics and their relationships with NAEP scores over time that were supported by the pre-2019 data. But in light of the large and unequal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe this assumption may no longer hold, so we have decided to delay updating this tool until we have reviewed the new data.
National Assessment of Educational Progress
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Select the factor(s) you want to consider in adjusting the raw NAEP scores.
Free and reduced-price lunch eligibility

Unadjusted versus adjusted scores

with controls for
*Prior to 2003, students were only tested in one subject per year.
*Students were not asked about how frequently they spoke English at home in the 2017 NAEP.
*Prior to 2005, we don’t have the information to provide an imputed free and reduced-price lunch measure.