Elementary School Reading Performance

This report will focus on the reading performance results of 4th-grade students in US elementary schools. The results include both public and private schools and contain additional breakdowns by gender and race/ethnicity of students.

Average reading performance by year (4th grade)

  • As of 2022, the average 4th-grade student in the US scored 217 points on NAEP’s reading performance test.
  • This is 3 points less compared to the last assessment in 2019, which is a 1.36% decrease.
  • Reading performance of the 4th-grades has been declining for the third time in a row after a 223-point peak in 2015.
  • Over the last 10 years, reading assessment results for elementary school students declined by 5 points on the NAEP scale, which is a 2.25% drop.
  • The results are on the level of the 2003 assessment when students averaged around 218 points on the test.
YearAverage reading performance scoresChange
2022217-1.36%
2019220-0.90%
2017222-0.45%
20152230.45%
20132220.45%
20112210.00%
20092210.00%
20072210.91%
20052190.46%
2003218
vs. 2013-2.25%
vs. 2003-0.46%
  • 37% of 4th graders performed below the basic level on reading assessment tests in 2022, according to NAEP’s classification. This is the highest number of students performing below the basic level since 2003.
  • 29% of students performed at the basic level, the least since 2003.
  • 33% of students performed at or above the proficient level, which is the least since 2011.
  • 9% of 4th-grade students perform at an advanced level of reading assessment tests.
Yearbelow Basicat Basicat Proficientat Advanced
202237.00%29.00%24.00%9.00%
201934.00%31.00%26.00%9.00%
201732.00%31.00%27.00%9.00%
201531.00%33.00%27.00%9.00%
201332.00%33.00%27.00%8.00%
201133.00%34.00%26.00%8.00%
200933.00%34.00%25.00%8.00%
200733.00%34.00%25.00%8.00%
200536.00%33.00%24.00%8.00%
200337.00%32.00%24.00%8.00%

Reading performance by gender (4th grade)

Female students of US elementary schools display better reading performance results compared to males. However, both groups have gotten worse results over the last several years.

  • As of 2022, female 4th-grade students in US elementary schools average 221 points on reading performance tests on NAEP’s scale, while male students average around 214 points.
  • This makes female students 3.27% better compared to male students when it comes to reading performance.
  • This is also the biggest difference between female and male students in reading assessment tests since 2003.
  • Within both groups, the results are worse compared to the previous assessment in 2019; female students averaged 3 points or 1.34% less in 2022, while male students dropped 3 points for a 1.38% drop.
YearMaleChangeFemaleChange
2022214-1.38%221-1.34%
2019217-0.91%224-0.44%
20172190.00%225-0.44%
20152190.00%2260.44%
20132190.46%2250.00%
20112180.00%2250.45%
20092180.00%2240.00%
20072180.93%2240.90%
20052160.47%2220.00%
2003215222
vs. 2013-2.28%-1.78%
vs. 2003-0.47%-0.45%
  • 40% of male students going into 4th grade perform below the basic NAEP level on reading assessment tests as of 2022, which is the most since 2003.
  • On the other hand, 34% of female students performed below the basic level in 2022, also the most over the last 20 years.
  • 31% of male 4th graders performed at or above the proficient reading level, the least since 2011.
  • Female students performed at or above the proficient level in 36% of cases in 2022, also the least since 2011.

Reading performance by race (4th grade)

  • Among different races and ethnicities, students of Asian origin attending 4th grade in US elementary schools recorded the best average results on reading assessment tests with 239 points.
  • White students average 227 points, while mixed-race students average around 223 points on reading tests.
  • Lower reading performance results were recorded with students of Latin/Hispanic origin (205 points on average), as well as Black students (199 points) and American Indians (197 points).
  • All racial and ethnic groups declined in their reading assessment compared to the previous testing in 2019.
YearWhiteChangeBlackChangeHispanicChangeAsian/Pacific IslanderChangeAmerican Indian/Alaska NativeChangeMixed RaceChange
2022227-1.30%199-2.45%205-1.91%2390.84%197-3.43%223-1.33%
2019230-0.86%204-0.97%2090.00%237-0.84%2040.99%226-0.44%
20172320.00%2060.00%2090.48%2390.00%202-1.46%2270.00%
20152320.00%2060.00%2080.48%2391.70%2050.00%2270.00%
20132320.43%2060.49%2070.49%2350.00%2051.49%2270.00%
20112310.43%2050.00%2060.49%2350.00%202-0.98%2270.44%
2009230-0.43%2050.99%2050.00%2351.29%2040.49%2260.44%
20072310.87%2031.50%2050.99%2321.31%203-0.49%2250.90%
20052290.00%2001.01%2031.50%2291.33%2040.99%2230.00%
2003229198200226202223
vs. 2013-2.16%-3.40%-0.97%1.70%-3.90%-1.76%
vs. 2003-0.87%0.51%2.50%5.75%-2.48%0.00%
  • 56.00% of Black students in 4th grade performed below the basic reading level according to NAEP’s standards in 2022, the most since 2005.
  • 27% of White students scored below the basic proficiency level in 2022, which is the least over the last 20 years.
  • On the other hand, 23.00% of Asian 4th graders performed at the advanced level, the most among all 4th graders in the US.