Dismal NAEP Results Confirm Urgency of Education Reforms in Virginia

Gov Glenn Youngkin

“Nation’s Report Card” shows Virginia fourth graders recorded the largest declines in reading and math in the nation

RICHMOND, VA — Governor Glenn Youngkin described the learning losses of Virginia fourth- and eighth-grade students on this year’s national reading and mathematics tests as catastrophic. Since 2017, fourth graders in Virginia suffered the largest declines in reading and math in the nation on the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). For the first time in 30 years, Virginia’s 4th grade students have fallen below the national average in reading and are barely above the national average in math. The average scores of the Commonwealth’s eighth graders also dropped, with statistically significant declines in both reading and math. Virginia began participating in NAEP in 1990, and State NAEP assessments are administered every two years. The 2021 administration of NAEP was postponed to 2022 due to the pandemic.

“The NAEP results are another loud wake-up call: our nation’s children have experienced catastrophic learning loss, and Virginia’s students are among the hardest hit,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Every parent in Virginia is now acutely aware that when my predecessors lowered educational standards, those lowered expectations were met. Virginia’s children bear the brunt of these misguided decisions. These actions were compounded by keeping children out of school for extended and unnecessary periods. Virginia may lose a generation of children—particularly among our most in need. We are redoubling our Commitment to Virginians, to prevent us from losing a generation, with additional steps to ensure that all children in Virginia have the tools and support structure to get back on track.”

NAEP Grade-4 Reading: Virginia’s 4th Graders at the National Average for the first time since 1994

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Grade-4 Reading: % Proficient or Above:

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Grade-4 Math: % Proficient or Above:

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“Recent data from the SOLs, PALS and now today’s heart-wrenching decline in Virginia’s NAEP scores, are a predictable outcome of the decade-long systematic dismantling of a foundational commitment to excellence in education,” said Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera. “Nothing is more important than ensuring every child in Virginia has access to a quality education that is grounded in high expectations. Since Day One, our administration has worked to live up to that promise and we will continue our efforts to raise expectations for students and schools, support them in meeting those high standards and hold schools accountable for results.”

“While the pandemic and long-sustained closures of schools accelerated the regression of student proficiency, deliberate decisions, pre-dating the pandemic, set our students on a downward path of declining achievement,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Taken together, the significant pre-pandemic declines we saw on the 2017 NAEP, and these latest results have wiped out more than 20 years of progress Virginia students have made on the national reading and math tests since the commonwealth launched the SOL program in the late 1990s. Virginia’s plummeting trendlines since 2017 are a lesson to the nation and other states on the consequences for students when policy makers lower standards and fail to prioritize the needs of students.”

Our Commitment to Virginia’s Children

Action 1: Raise the Floor and the Ceiling

Action 2: Empower Parents with Emergency Support for Students

Action 3: Launch Tutoring Partnerships

Action 4: Hold Ourselves and Our Schools Accountable

Action 5: Strengthen Virginia’s Teacher Pipeline

Action 6: Provide Parents, Students, and Teachers with Actionable Information

Action 7: Challenge School Divisions to Spend Nearly $2 Billion in Remaining Federal K-12 Funds on Learning Recovery

Superintendent Balow’s presentation deck is available here.

The 2022 state NAEP report results can be found here.

In May, the Youngkin Administration released “Our Commitment to Virginians: High Expectations and Excellence for All Students” the report is available here.