Synthesizing NAEP and International Large-Scale Assessment Score Trends: A Pattern of Diverging Performance

Nearly every year, the government releases new data about U.S. student performance from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) or one of the several international large-scale assessments (ILSAs) in which the United States participates. The results are important and informative, but the need to release data in a timely manner leaves little time to reflect upon what the studies mean when considered together, even though they cover overlapping grades and subjects.

This study brings together results from NAEP and three ILSAs to examine long-term, intermediate, and recent score trends in reading, mathematics, and science for U.S. students in 4th grade, in 8th grade, and at 15 years old. The analysis, consisting of a Stats-at-a-Glance, a research brief, and a research note, finds a relatively consistent pattern across these assessments: performance between high- and low-performing students is diverging. Understanding this pre-pandemic pattern provides a baseline picture of U.S. student performance that will be essential for accurately understanding post-pandemic findings from studies that are soon to come.

Stats-at-a-Glance: A Pattern of Diverging Performance