The Obvious Question
My dad used to ask me: If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you do it too? The 2022 scores on the Nation’s Report Card were just released and the results in both reading and math were dreadful. And yet, I know that when Missourians read that 7 in 10 of our 8th graders are below grade level, they’ll ask, “But what about every other state?” Sure, we’ve gone off a cliff and are about to hit the rocky shore below, but presumably others are freefalling as well.
For the record, here is how Missouri’s scale score (a 0–500 scale for reading and a 0–300 scale for math) on each of the four assessments compares to the U.S. average. Missouri’s 4th-grade reading score dropped by 5 points between 2019 and 2022. The national 4th-grade reading score dropped by 3 points. Missouri’s 4th-grade math scores dropped by 6 points (nationally—5 point drop). Missouri’s 8th-grade reading scores dropped by 6 points (nationally—3 point drop). Finally, Missouri’s 8th-grade math scores dropped by a whopping 9 points, compared to a national drop of 8 points. In summary, Missouri’s decline was worse on all accounts.
Twenty five states had smaller declines in 4th-grade reading, and 28 did in math. The 8th-grade results are worse; 39 states had smaller declines in reading, and 30 did in math. A handful of states had score gains here or there or declines of just a point or two in their scale scores.
So, if it really matters whether Missouri did badly on its own or worse than other states—the answer is both.