4th Grade Reading & Math

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Fourth Grade Reading and Math

As the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores show, Virginia fourth-graders as a group have consistently exceeded the national average in reading and math, with scores that have also generally continued to improve since 2003.

Why is This Important?

One way to help gauge the performance of Virginia students is through the NAEP assessment tests -- also known as the "Nation's Report Card" -- which are administered every two years to 4th graders across the country. Performance on fourth grade reading and math assessments help predict success in future grades.

Although proficiency levels (and scores) across the country generally have been rising since the NAEP began its assessments in 1990, there is some concern that gains made by younger students tend to flatten out by the time they reach high school.

How is Virginia Doing?

Average 4th Grade Reading Scores, Out of 500. See text for explanation.Virginia Scores
In 2015, Virginia ranked 5th in reading and 6th in math on the fourth grade NAEP tests. Despite a few setbacks along the way, Virginia's scores have gradually improved since 2003 and continue to exceed national averages, which in 2015 were 223 for reading and 240 for math (out of a possible 500).

Virginia's 2015 reading score (229) held steady from 2013 (also 229) -- and was higher than North Carolina (226), Tennessee (219), and Maryland (223). Virginia's score in math in 2015 was 247 -- again better than Tennessee (241), North Carolina (244),and Maryland (240).

As the Snapshot Reports make evident, there are still significant gaps in performance when results are broken down by race, socioeconomic status, and even gender (the latter in Reading only); most of these differences have not budged much since the 1990s.

Average 4th Grade Mathematics Scores, Out of 500. See text for explanation.

National Leaders
Massachusetts fourth graders were once again in first place for reading, with an average score of 235. Massachusetts was also the leading state for math, with an average score of 251.

What Influences Fourth Grade Reading and Math Scores?

Improvement in the quality of instruction in Virginia's public schools and adoption of the SOL accountability program have both influenced student achievement in all subject areas and on a variety of national tests, including the NAEP.

What is the State's Role?

The state's role in promoting student achievement is to provide rigorous academic standards, promote effective instruction, and encourage accountability for results at every level.

Page last modified March 22, 2016
4th Grade Reading Scores, byState. 4th Grade Math Scores, by State.

State rankings are ordered so that #1 is understood to be the best.

Data Definitions and Sources

U.S. Dept. of Education, 2015

Both reading and math are scored out of 500 possible points.

State fact sheets and a host of other informative publications can be found under Recent Publications on the NAEP site.

See the Data Sources and Updates Calendar for a detailed list of the data resources used for indicator measures on Virginia Performs.

At a Glance:
4th Grade Reading & Math in Virginia

Performance Trend:  Trend is improving.
State Influence:  

National Ranking: In 2015, Virginia ranked 5th in reading and 6th in math on the fourth grade NAEP tests.

Related Agency Measures
State Programs & Initiatives

Extensive data shows that children benefit greatly from early and consistent education.

Early On

The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (aka Smart Beginnings) leads and coordinates collaborative efforts to build a statewide, comprehensive system of high-quality early childhood care, education, and health services for Virginia's youngest citizens. Through the Smart Beginnings initiative, the Foundation brings a results-oriented approach to investments to increase school readiness.

The Virginia Preschool Initiative provides quality preschool to at-risk 4-year-olds who are not served by Head Start.

Elementary Level and Beyond

The Early Intervention Reading Initiative provides services to students in kindergarten through the third grade who demonstrate deficiencies on the PALS (Phonological and Literacy Screening) assessment.

There are many other local programs aimed at encouraging and improving reading skills in young people. One good place to start is your local library.

Mathematics/Science Partnerships encourage schools at all levels to participate in professional development activities that increase the subject-matter knowledge and teaching skills of mathematics and science teachers.