SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Utah students seem to be bouncing back academically after their test scores dropped during the pandemic years, according to a nationwide “report card” on student readiness.

Today, the Utah State Board of Education released a review of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) or the Nation’s Report Card’s 2022 reading and math scores for each state. While NAEP’s data from previous years proved the pandemic’s detrimental impact on students both nationally and locally, this year’s scores proved to boost Utah’s academic ranking among the rest of the nation.

In its review, the Board noted that Utah received $900 million in “federal emergency pandemic funding” to aid schools, emphasizing that the majority of that money went towards “addressing individual student learning needs” or “addressing learning gaps due to the pandemic, educational technology, afterschool and summer school programs, and student social and emotional supports, such as additional counselors and wellness rooms.” The Board added that the remainder of that funding was used to address health and physical safety matters as Utah chose to put importance on in-person learning.

“Utah students demonstrated remarkable resiliency during the pandemic relative to other students in the nation,” State Superintendent of Instruction Sydnee Dickson said. “However, aspects of learning, like many other aspects of our lives, were negatively impacted. Teachers, parents, and students are aware of the changes in academic performance but can take heart in the additional efforts taking place to help all students be better prepared for successful outcomes and opportunities.”

Reading Scores Compared Nationally and Locally Using the Metric of Average Scale Score:

The Board reported that nationally, we saw what are considered “statistically significant drops” for both fourth-grade and eighth-grade reading scores. Across the nation, NAEP reported that fourth-grade reading scores fell from 219 in 2019 to 216, while eighth-grade reading scores fell from 262 to 259. In Utah, fourth-grade reading scores fell from 219 to 216, while eighth-grade reading scores 267 to 265, neither considered to be statistically significant drops by the Board.

Mathematic Scores Compared Nationally and Locally Using the Metric of Average Scale Score:

Nationally, the Board said math scores in fourth grade fell from 244 in 2019 to 240, and from 281 to 273 in eighth graders, a significant drop. In Utah, fourth-grade math scores fell from 240 to 235, while eighth-grade math scores fell from 285 to 282, not statistically significant, according to the board.

The Board stated that NAEP’s data revealed that Utah fourth graders went from the fourth best in the country in reading in 2019 to the seventh best, though Utah eighth graders went from sixth best in the county in reading to third best. Additionally, Utah fourth graders went from ninth best in the nation in mathematics in 2019 to fifth best, while Utah eighth graders went from 16th best in the nation in mathematics to second best, a huge leap.