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Students in Delaware Are Falling Behind on Reading Tests

From: The Center Square 

Over two years have passed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its effects continue to extend far beyond public health. A recent report released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress reveals a staggering decline in math and reading skills among the nation’s fourth and eighth grade students.

Specifically, the share of fourth-graders and the share of eighth-graders who are considered proficient in reading each fell by 3 percentage points since 2019, the last time the standardized test was administered. While there is no single explanation for the trend, experts attribute the historic decline primarily to the disruptions stemming from the pandemic.

Based on the latest NAEP test results, also known as the nation’s report card, only 33% of fourth-graders and 31% of eighth-graders are proficient in reading. In some states, reading proficiency rates are even lower.

In Delaware, just 25% of fourth-grade students and 24% of eighth-graders are proficient in reading. The average proficiency rate among the two grades of 24.5% is below the national average of 32% and fourth lowest among states.

In 2021, the federal government invested $123 billion in public education to help students catch up in the wake of the pandemic. The latest test results reveal it may take billions more. While the link between per pupil spending and student outcomes is complicated, many states with lower-than-average test scores also spend less on education than most – Delaware, however, is an exception. According to the latest data from the Department of Education, Delaware public schools spend an average of $15,910 per pupil annually, the 11th highest among states.

State Avg. reading proficiency rate (%) 4th graders proficient in reading (%) 8th graders proficient in reading (%) Annual per pupil spending ($)
New Mexico 19.5 21 18 10,167
West Virginia 22 22 22 11,944
Oklahoma 22.5 24 21 9,144
Delaware 24.5 25 24 15,910
Alabama 25 28 22 10,076
Alaska 25 24 26 18,393
Mississippi 26.5 31 22 9,303
Texas 26.5 30 23 9,697
Louisiana 27.5 28 27 11,800
Nevada 28 27 29 9,159
Arkansas 28 30 26 10,084
Michigan 28 28 28 11,211
Oregon 28 28 28 11,778
Kansas 28.5 31 26 11,387
North Carolina 29 32 26 9,747
Tennessee 29 30 28 9,870
Missouri 29 30 28 11,243
North Dakota 29 31 27 13,453
Maine 29 29 29 14,720
Arizona 29.5 31 28 8,648
South Carolina 29.5 32 27 11,359
Kentucky 30 31 29 11,291
California 30.5 31 30 13,679
Iowa 31 33 29 11,271
Minnesota 31 32 30 12,648
New York 31 30 32 23,429
South Dakota 31.5 32 31 10,139
Georgia 31.5 32 31 11,131
Montana 31.5 34 29 11,834
Nebraska 31.5 34 29 12,306
Virginia 31.5 32 31 12,640
Idaho 32 32 32 7,895
Indiana 32 33 31 10,137
Maryland 32 31 33 15,148
Wisconsin 32.5 33 32 12,575
Pennsylvania 32.5 34 31 15,252
Illinois 32.5 33 32 15,835
Rhode Island 32.5 34 31 16,983
Washington 33 34 32 14,031
Hawaii 33 35 31 16,132
Florida 34 39 29 9,645
Ohio 34 35 33 12,372
Wyoming 34 38 30 16,304
Vermont 34 34 34 16,359
New Hampshire 35 37 33 17,452
Connecticut 35 35 35 20,271
Colorado 36 38 34 10,900
Utah 36.5 37 36 7,888
New Jersey 40 38 42 19,852
Massachusetts 41.5 43 40 17,787