2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress Results Show Signs of Promise and Areas for Improvement for The School District of Philadelphia

Posted on October 24, 2022
Categories: News from SDP

District performance in three of four tested areas was comparable to 2019 pre-pandemic levels, but scaled scores are lower than comparable public school districts in other large cities

PHILADELPHIA, PA — The 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report shows the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) performed similarly to 2019 in three of four tested areas, despite the unprecedented disruption in education due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The District held steady with no statistically significant declines – meaning there was no real change when sampling errors were considered – in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade reading and math overall, and across all student groups. Scaled scores for fourth-grade math declined eight points versus 2019. However, the majority of public school districts in large cities continue to outperform SDP across all four tested areas.

Nationally, public school districts experienced statistically significant declines versus 2019 across all four tested areas: down five points in fourth-grade reading, three points in eighth-grade reading, five points in fourth-grade math and four points in eighth-grade math. Results for large cities which are comparable to Philadelphia showed statistically significant declines in three of four tested areas when compared to 2019: down three points in fourth-grade reading, and eight points in both fourth-grade and eighth-grade math, with no change in eighth-grade reading.

“Holding steady in three of four areas given the many challenges that all school districts have experienced these past three years is encouraging news that we intend to build on going forward,” said Superintendent Tony B. Watlington, Sr., Ed.D. “But we have a long way to go to ensure all students are succeeding academically. That’s why, outside of student safety, improving academic outcomes for all of our students will be our highest priority as we develop our new five-year strategic plan. Our goal is to make the School District of Philadelphia one of the fastest improving, large, urban school districts in the country for achieving successful outcomes for all students.”

The School District has already begun to implement efforts designed to create a culture of teaching and learning excellence in every school. These efforts include enhancing teacher supports, such as Professional Learning Communities, and using quarterly assessments across all grades in English Language Arts and Math to give educators more detailed information about their students’ performance and inform personalized instruction and interventions for students.

Highlights of the 2022 NAEP results are as follows:

Average Scaled Score
(range 0 to 500)
20192022Change vs 2019
4th-Grade Reading
Nation (public)219216-3*
Large City (public)212209-3*
School District of Philadelphia197195-2
no statistically significant change
8th-Grade Reading
Nation (public)262259-3*
Large City (public)2552550
no statistically significant change
School District of Philadelphia243242-1
no statistically significant change
4th-Grade Math
Nation (public)240235-5*
Large City (public)235227-8*
School District of Philadelphia217209-8*
8th-Grade Math
Nation (public)281273-8*
Large City (public)274266-8*
School District of Philadelphia256252-4
no statistically significant change

*Note: results with a * are statistically significant, meaning there is a high degree of confidence that there is a real difference when sampling errors are considered. A more detailed explanation from NAEP can be found at https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/faq.aspx#q18

“The NAEP data, collected at the peak of the COVID-19 Omicron variant wave, reflect the significant impact that the pandemic had in our Great Cities and the challenges facing students in the aftermath of the pandemic,” said Executive Director Ray Hart of the Council of the Great City Schools. “To be clear, the data aren’t showing that students are any less capable of meeting and exceeding high academic standards. Rather, these scores highlight the unfinished learning that districts are currently addressing with a wide range of academic supports. Sustaining achievement in any grade or subject in the face of a global crisis is no easy feat and is a testament to Philadelphia’s academic continuity planning during the crisis, as well as their proactive recovery efforts when schools reopened.”

Deemed the Nation‘s Report Card, the National Assessment of Educational Progress is highly regarded as a nationally representative assessment of what American students know and can do in English Language Arts and Math. Its assessments are typically conducted every two years in math and reading, however the latest assessment represents a three-year timeframe due to the pandemic.

“The School District of Philadelphia has been a voluntary participant in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) for reading and math since 2009,” said Dr. Tonya Wolford, the School District of Philadelphia’s Chief of Evaluation, Research, and Accountability. “The importance of being able to compare our School District’s performance to others across the nation cannot be overstated. NAEP data along with other achievement data from state and district assessments provides a broad lens for us to view how our students are performing and what areas we need to focus on to improve academic outcomes.”

2022 NAEP results will be available on October 24, 2022 here.