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Wisconsin's 2019 NAEP scores steady

Nation saw significant declines; achievement gaps persist for Wisconsin
Wednesday, October 30, 2019


DPI Media Line, (608) 266-3559

MADISON — Wisconsin's results on the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, remained statistically unchanged for public school students in tested subjects and grade levels, in a year when the nation saw significant declines on three out of four measures. Students last took the NAEP exam in 2017. Wisconsin's current results mirror long-term trends; differences between today's results and those from ten years ago in 2009 are not statistically significant.

"We have work ahead to achieve our rigorous expectations," State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor said. "Our persistent achievement gaps are a crisis. Closing these gaps is not only the right thing to do, it is imperative for our state."

In both reading and mathematics, Wisconsin eighth graders outpaced nearly 40 other states, with only two jurisdictions scoring higher (around a dozen were statistically similar). A total of 51 jurisdictions were included in the results — 50 states plus the District of Columbia. Fourth-grade scores statistically equaled the national average. Additionally, the state's English learners performed higher in reading than English learners nationally at both grade levels.

However, Wisconsin's scores reflected a wider gap between the performance of black and white students than any other state or jurisdiction except one, the District of Columbia. NAEP results for Wisconsin, as well as nationwide, show declining scores among the lowest performing students.

This year, results for NAEP's Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) were released at the same time as state results. Milwaukee Public Schools is among 27 large urban districts that participate in TUDA. Participants receive district-level results. Results for Milwaukee show trends similar to the nation, with decreases in reading at both grade levels. Mathematics results for the district remained steady compared to 2017. The district has participated since 2009.

NAEP is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas. NAEP 2019 was administered last spring to over 3300 Wisconsin public school students in each subject and grade level. The number of students taking the assessment nationally was between approximately 138,100 and 144,700, depending on subject and grade level. This is the second year results are being reported for NAEP digitally based assessments on tablets. The NAEP reading and mathematics scales range from zero to 500. NAEP has been administered since 1969 and has produced state-level results since the early 1990s.

NAEP scale scores for Wisconsin and the nation, along with results by subgroup for 2019 and 2017, are available in tables included with the PDF version of this news release. 

More information about the assessment can be found on the Nation’s Report Card site:

Official Release