Alaska’s Historical Public School Performance

Alaska has been participating in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) since 2003. The NAEP is a national assessment that measures student achievement in various subjects, including reading and math. By participating in the NAEP, Alaska is able to compare its students’ performance to that of students in other states and across the country as a whole. This information can be used to identify areas where Alaska’s education system may need improvement and to develop strategies for addressing those areas. Additionally, the NAEP provides valuable data that can be used by policymakers and educators to make informed decisions about education policy and practice.  

The following graphs showcase a comparison between Alaska student scores and the national average, as well as the current top-performing state, Massachusetts, from 2003 to 2022. The scores presented are for both reading and mathematics and are broken down by grade levels at which the assessments are administered, including 4th and 8th grade. The NAEP is typically administered every odd year, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the most recent assessment was delayed by a year, resulting in the most recent data being from 2022 instead of 2021.  

Additionally, student scores are presented in two broad categories: students that are eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and those that are not. These categories are rough estimates for low-income students and mid-to-high-income students. However, the NSLP category is not a perfect substitute for income information in Alaska, because Alaska is one of a few states that has a broader definition of eligibility for the NSLP. In Alaska, students are eligible for the program if their household income is at or below 185% of the federal poverty level, but they can also be eligible if they receive other forms of public assistance, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This means that some students who may not meet the traditional definition of low income could still be included in the NSLP category. It’s important to keep this in mind when analyzing student scores. 

Regardless of income level, Alaskan students have scored below the national average in reading and math in both 4th and 8th grade since 2003. The only exception was a few years in 8th-grade math for students eligible for NSLP (those considered low-income). While Alaska’s scores have always been below the national average for almost all categories in both reading and math, there is a clear downtick in scores after 2015.  

Historical NAEP Scores