ACT Statement on NAEP 2013 Results

Fewer than half of all fourth and eighth graders have grade-level appropriate proficiency in reading and math, lagging far behind widely accepted thresholds for career and college readiness, according to results from The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), released today by the U.S. Department of Education. Only 35 percent of fourth grade students are proficient in reading, and 42 percent proficient in math. In grade eight, only 36 percent are proficient in reading and math.

As states continue to ramp up their implementation of more rigorous achievement standards to better align curriculum and assessments with college and career ready benchmarks, these NAEP results emphasize how crucial it will be to accelerate students’ progress rapidly.

“We support rigorous standards and believe it is important to consider the NAEP findings in the broader context of our national educational landscape,” said Jon Erickson, ACT president of education and career solutions. “In tandem with ACT’s consistent research findings, these NAEP scores illuminate the challenges we face in ensuring all students are ready to succeed in college and career.”

ACT’s research findings, based on decades of data drawn from millions of students, provide additional insight into the scope of effort that lies ahead:

  • Many high school graduates are not college- and career-ready: In August, ACT released its annual Condition of College and Career Readiness report showing that only 26 percent of ACT-tested 2013 graduates met all four of ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks. These research-based benchmarks indicate students’ readiness for first-year college coursework in English, math, reading and science.
  • The NAEP results echo ACT results: NAEP scores demonstrate that, nationwide, most students are off track as early as fourth grade and on through eighth grade.
  • We must start early to help kids catch up: ACT’s research report The Forgotten Middle shows that fewer than 10 percent of students who are far off track in eighth grade are able to make up lost ground and attain the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks by 12th grade.
  • Statewide adoption of standards and assessments based on college and career readiness is a step in the right direction. The ACT Aspire™ assessment system will assess students’ knowledge and skills critical to college and career readiness so that students may receive the support they need to get and stay on track for success starting early in their educational careers. ACT Aspire will track students’ progress from third grade through high school, making it possible to intervene and accelerate the pace of student achievement.