EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Utah fares better than most in latest report card from National Center for Education

Jun 26, 2023, 1:17 PM | Updated: Jun 27, 2023, 7:39 am

SALT LAKE CITY — The latest Nation’s Report Card shows a decline in middle schoolers’ reading and math scores, but does Utah rank better?

The National Center for Education Statistics has been tracking 13-year-old students’ scores for years, but the latest report compares the performance trend during the 2022-23 school year to previous years.

The highlights show a decline in both reading and math scores, with the lowest-performing students scoring the lowest since the assessment began in the 1970s.

Lindsey Henderson, of the Utah State Board of Education, joined the Dave and Dujanovic program to discuss Utah’s golden lining in this study.

Utah’s report card

Henderson said Utah is an outlier in the assessment.

“Our state scores did not decrease in 8th-grade math from pre-pandemic to post-pandemic. We stayed the same,”  she said. “We always want growth in our students, but with a major global crisis like the pandemic, to maintain the same scores… it’s huge.”

How the state handled the classroom disruption during the pandemic was key according to Henderson.

“We leveraged . . . $9 million from our federal emergency partners to help get kids access to technology, to help get the infrastructure in place to make sure everyone had internet,” Henderson said. 

She also pointed out how the community got involved, enabling the state’s success.

“I saw principals driving their cars to take lunches to kids… Utah is really great in community support,” Henderson said.

According to Henderson, social contact changed after the pandemic, especially for high school students.

“We need to capitalize on students’ interest in mathematics and reading more than ever to help them stay engaged in investing in their future.”

The study showed enrollment in algebra dropped from 34% of 13-year-olds in 2012 to 24% in 2023, and that fewer students said they were frequently reading for fun.

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Utah fares better than most in latest report card from National Center for Education