Test scores show declines in reading and math for Maine students

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Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 11:36 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WMTW) - Newly released standardized test results show participating Maine fourth and eighth graders scoring at or below the national average in reading and math.

The results come as every state in the nation saw declines in scores due, at least in part, to pandemic-related learning disruptions.

The scores from the National Assessment of Education Progress represent the first national standardized test of this kind conducted since 2019.

  • In fourth grade reading, Maine scored 213 out of 500, below the national average of 216 and below the 2019 score of 221.
  • In eighth grade reading, Maine scored 257, below the national average of 259 and below the 2019 score of 265.
  • In fourth grade mathematics, Maine scored 233, down from 241 in 2019 and below the national average of 235.
  • In eighth grade mathematics, Maine scored 273, down from 282 in 2019 and equal to the national average.

“These tests are for improving the learning experience of our kids,” said Sam Pfeifle, School Board Chair for MSAD 15 in Gray-New Gloucester.

Pfeifle says understanding these results is about managing expectations.

For teaching during the pandemic, Pfeifle thinks Maine educators deserve credit.

“Even with all of that, our teachers and our schools still managed to deliver 97% of the same amount of learning. I find that to be remarkable,” Pfeifle said.

Maine’s average score of 213 among fourth graders in mathematics marks the lowest score in the category in roughly 30 years.

“This is concerning to us that this is the first time that we’ve fallen behind the national average,” said Nick Murray of the conservative-leaning Maine Policy Institute.

Murray blames pandemic-related school closures on the decline.

“It’s the worst score for fourth grade math in 20 years. I think it’s a sad and predictable result of the fact that, you know, we kept schools closed, we disrupted the lives of children,” Murray said.

The Maine Department of Education said Commissioner Pender Makin was not available for an interview but provided a lengthy statement written by the DOE’S director of communications Marcus Mrowka.

“The NAEP assessment, administered once every other year, provides a limited and narrow snapshot,” Mrowka wrote.

“The Maine state assessment for the 2021-2022 school year indicates that roughly 80 percent of students tested at or above their grade level compared to national norms,” Mrowka added.

Pfeifle hopes other districts also measure progress with a range of data, tailor curriculum and offer individualized support.