Fourth-Grade Reading


In 2022, 29% of Maine 4th graders were proficient in reading, a sharp drop from pre-COVID levels.

Unfavorable movement since the last available data

Benchmark: The percentage of Maine students scoring proficient and above on NAEP will reach 50% by 2030.

Overview Fig. A


From 2019 to 2022, fourth-grade reading performance on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP) tests fell in 45 of the 50 states. In Maine, the share of students meeting the proficiency benchmark dropped from 37% to 29% (three percentage points below the national average). This is a change from previous years, when Maine was at or above the U.S. average. Based on the NAEP sample of 1,700 Maine 4th graders, it appears that proficiency declines were largest among low-income students, those with disabilities, and English Language Learners. Declines were also larger for Black students than White students (other races were not reported).

Fourth-grade reading scores are an indicator of future outcomes like educational attainment, employment, and earnings. Fourth-grade reading proficiency is defined as solid academic performance and competency over challenging subject matter, application to real-world problems, and appropriate analytical skills. NAEP tests representative samples of fourth and eighth graders every other year to allow national and state comparisons.


Fig. A

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Percentage of 4th Graders Scoring Proficient or Above in Reading

National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); New England average is unweighted.