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Delaware Scores Plummet in the Latest NAEP Test Results

Governor signs bill addressing reading scores. What about addressing math scores?
By Dr. Tanya Hettler, Ph.D., Director 
Center for Educational Excellence
November 3, 2022 



The most recent results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a test administered every two years to 4th and 8th grade students by the U.S. Department of Education, were just released. While not good news for the nation, they were even worse news for the state of Delaware. The "Nation's Report Card" provides the most comprehensive analysis of national test scores since COVID-19.


The tests are regarded as key indicators for student achievement and future progress in school, career, and life. We can't blame Delaware's terrible 2022 test scores solely on COVID-19 since the NAEP data show that Delaware's declines in both reading and math started in 2015, years before COVID-19.





Delaware experienced the largest drop in math scores in the whole country for 4th grade and the second largest drop in 8th grade. The math scores for Delaware's 4th and 8th graders fell below the national proficiency level-see Graph 1.



Graph 1:  Percentage of Students Performing At or Above Proficiency Level in Math in Delaware and the Nation

(Graph 1 Data Source:




The 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress results indicated a plunge in reading that wiped out two decades of gains nationwide and in Delaware. Delaware also experienced the second-largest drop of all states in reading scores for 4th grade and the third-largest drop for 8th grade. The reading scores for Delaware 4th and 8th graders also fell below the national proficiency level-see Graph 2.



Graph 2:  Percentage of Students Performing At or Above Proficiency Level in Reading in Delaware and the Nation

(Graph 2 Data Source:




The 2022 NAEP test results show that throughout the country, and particularly in Delaware, COVID-19 had a devastating effect on students who now have a lot of catching up to do.


Delaware received over $600 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to assist schools in recovery from COVID-19. In reviewing the Delaware Department of Education Financial Transparency Report, the school districts have used less than half of these funds. And little has been allocated to ameliorating learning loss.


We recommend school districts use these funds to provide extra tutoring, counseling, and support services to assist students in overcoming learning losses and in coping with the mental health issues that arose during lockdowns, remote learning, and masking. These services should be "outsourced" rather than adding full-time employees because these are one-time funds.





The poor response to the virus only amplified problems that already existed. Students continue suffering from years of bad pedagogy decisions made by the education administration, especially in reading.


We applaud the most recent action to address Delaware's poor reading scores, with the Governor signing the "science of readingbill. However, action is still needed to address the poor math scores.


For instance, Delaware schools still use Common Core which parents and teachers alike believe does not effectively teach mathematics to our students. A survey by The Hechinger Report Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found that just 41 percent of high school teachers are positive about Common Core standards.


States throughout the country are developing new educational standards to replace Common Core. Our state's educational leaders must face and take responsibility for the terrible scores of Delaware's students. They must return to effective methods of teaching math just as they are returning to teaching phonics to Delaware's students.


Given the terrible test results for Delaware, parents, the community and stakeholders need to continue putting pressure on the Governor, the Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education, and the Executive Director of the Delaware State Education Association.



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