Alabama only state to show 4th grade math, reading improvements

Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 1:20 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 24, 2022 at 6:50 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama is out of last place when it comes to mathematics for fourth and eighth-graders. Education leaders say the state held its own as Alabama’s students improved in math and reading on this year’s National Assessment of Education Progress when a majority of other states did not.

“To us, it is simply a testament of the good work that is going on in our classrooms,” said State Superintendent Eric Mackey.

Alabama went from last place to 40th in fourth-grade math and from 49th to 39th in fourth-grade reading. The state is three points behind the reading national average and five points behind in math.

“I think we’ll not only reach it in the next few years, but we’re going to exceed that for the first time in Alabama’s history,” said Mackey.

Alabama went from 52nd to 40th in fourth-grade math.
Alabama went from 52nd to 40th in fourth-grade math. (Erin Davis)

For eighth-grade, Alabama went from last place to 47th in math and maintained 49th in reading, as it was in 2019.

Mackey credits the success of all the scores to the Alabama Literacy Act and the numeracy act.

“We’re going to see this growth trend on into the intermediate and middle school grades and beyond,” said Mackey. “So Alabama has a strong foundation. We’ve built the right standards, and we are on the path for even more greatness in the years ahead.”

He also notes how quickly Alabama’s students returned to in-person learning during the pandemic.

“Our teachers made sure that that instruction stayed strong, whether that was remote instruction or in-person instruction, but we kept hearing and we kept repeating, nothing beats getting back in the classroom,” said Mackey.

Gov. Kay Ivey released a statement that agrees with the return to in-person learning helped improves the scores:

“This year’s NAEP results confirm that Alabama’s focus on core learning like reading and math is working and that in-classroom instruction matters. Throughout my first term, we have laid a solid foundation by setting strong standards and an assessment system aligned to our standards. I am confident that we will build on this foundation as we move forward. It should also not go unnoticed that while the rest of the nation dropped, Alabama bucked that trend by holding our own and making some progress. That is undoubtedly because we pushed to get kids back in the classroom during the pandemic. I applaud our students, teachers, and parents. There is still much work ahead, but I am confident that our forward momentum will continue. The future of our state and world is entirely dependent on our students’ education.”

This test will be given again in January. Mackey says with the Alabama Numeracy Act in full effect, he expects to see even more improvements.

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