Earlier this week, the National Association of Educational Progress (NAEP), known colloquially as “The Nation’s Report Card,” released the 2022 results on student achievement, the first state-by-state read we’ve had on how much students are learning since 2019. Here’s the bottom line: the results are a gut punch for Delaware’s students.

In addition to seeing proficiency drop more than double the rate of the highest performing states, we now rank in the bottom five states in both reading and math scores.

  • 4th grade reading

    • Proficiency: 25%
    • Change since 2019: -8%
    • State ranking: 47
  • 4th grade mathematics

    • Proficiency: 26%
    • Change since 2019: -13%
    • State ranking: 49
  • 8th grade reading

    • Proficiency: 24%:
    • Change since 2019: -7%
    • State ranking: 45
  • 8th grade mathematics

    • Proficiency: 18%:
    • Change since 2019: -11%
    • State ranking: 47

We knew that these results were going to be a tough pill to swallow because of the massive learning loss experienced during the pandemic by students across the state, driven at least in part by school closures that outpaced the national average. What we didn’t know was just how far behind Delaware students had fallen. According to experts, a 10-point swing in either direction is roughly equivalent to an entire year of learning. The NAEP results show that our students didn’t suffer mere incremental losses, but are now facing devastating gaps in their knowledge of core subjects. And while Covid-era policies certainly contributed to the large drops in student learning, our scores were suffering long before the pandemic hit. In the last decade, Delaware has failed to have a proficiency score of over 50% in either reading or math and we are among the states with the largest declines in reading proficiency. This is not okay.

The impact this will have on our students and the future of our state is undeniable. And as we face this crisis, our leaders are silent. We have yet to see a statement from our governor’s office or Department of Education in the wake of the release of this year’s NAEP results. Our students deserve a clear explanation of these results and a plan to fix it, including detailed proposals of how unspent federal dollars will be utilized to fix this crisis.

Last year, our state passed significant legislation in the area of early literacy and science of reading. Delaware’s leaders are also working hard to address our teacher shortage.

This is a good first step, but we need further urgent action to handle the gravity of this situation. We need a funding formula that focuses on student resources and not adults. We need universal access to state supported high-dosage tutoring programs and educational enrichment activities. We need solutions targeted to address the significant learning loss our students have experienced–and we need it yesterday.

We need a real commitment to solving this problem and we must demand action.

Additional NAEP analysis can be found here: https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/.


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