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Utah fourth- and eighth-graders outperformed their U.S. peers in math and reading in 2017, but 40 percent and less of students nationally were proficient in either subject, according to the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah fourth- and eighth-graders outperformed their U.S. peers in math and reading in 2017, but nationally, 40 percent or less of U.S. students were proficient in either subject according to the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress results.

The results, released nationwide on Tuesday, shows that Utah students, much as the nation at large, held steady in math and reading proficiency since the last round of testing in 2015.

“The NAEP report shows Utah students are performing well compared to the majority of states, but not well enough,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson.

Every other year, the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests a sampling of fourth- and eighth-graders in all 50 states in math and reading. Only statewide or national results are reported, although scores for demographic subgroups are also part of the so-called "Nation's Report Card."

Heather Tuttle
NAEPScores

Students are categorized as “below basic,” “basic,” “proficient” and “advanced.” Students in the “proficient” and “advanced” groups are both considered proficient.

Utah's top-performing students outperformed their peers nationally, but Dickson said she is "deeply concerned about gaps in achievement among various student groups.

For fourth-graders, 36 percent of U.S. students are proficient in reading compared to 41 percent of Utah students; 40 percent of U.S. students are proficient in math compared to 45 percent of Utah students.

Just 35 percent of eighth-grade U.S. students are proficient in reading compared to 39 percent of Utah students; 34 percent of U.S. students are proficient in math compared to 39 percent of Utah eighth-graders.

"We will be working closely with our local school districts and charter schools to ensure every student has the knowledge and skills needed to ensure they have choices about their future,” Dickson said.

For example, the average score reading among fourth-graders who are Hispanic was 31 points lower than that of white students in 2017.

"This performance gap was not significantly different from that in 1998," the results say.

Meanwhile, fourth-grade girls in Utah had an average score that was nine points higher than their male counterparts in reading, in 2017.

Students eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch and considered low income had an average score 26 points lower than that for students who were not eligible.

On the fourth grade math assessment, the boys' average score was four points higher than the girls' score.

Hispanic students' average scores were 21 points lower than that for white students and students from low-income households had an average score 20 points lower than students not considered low income.

"This performance gap was not significantly different from that in 2000," which was 19, according to the results related to income.

According to eighth-grade reading results, students from low-income households had an average score 20 points lower than students not eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch.

"This performance gap was not significantly different from that in 1998," according to the results.

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Hispanic students had an average score that was 22 points lower than that of white students, again not significantly different from that in 1998, the results say.

Female students' average score was 8 points higher than their male counterparts.

In eighth-grade math results, the average score among Hispanic students was 31 points lower than that of white students.

Students from low-income households had an average score 26 points lower than students who do not qualify for free or reduced price school lunch.

The average math scores for female and male students "was not significantly different," the results say.