Massachusetts students outperformed most of their counterparts in other states but saw their own average scores on a national assessment decline compared to 2019, a development that analysts attributed to impacts of the pandemic on learning.

State officials said that when National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores were averaged across four tests, Massachusetts continued to rank first in the nation. The U.S. Department of Education on Monday released state and nationwide results from the NAEP, which is often called the Nation's Report Card and measures knowledge of core subjects, for the first time since the 2018-2019 school year.

The new scores were from reading and math tests given to a sample of fourth- and eighth-grade students in the winter of 2022. Massachusetts students received the highest numeric score of any state on two of the four assessments (fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math) and the second-highest score on the other two assessments (eighth-grade reading and fourth-grade math).

State education officials said scores nationally in all four areas declined compared to 2019, with math scores in grades four and eight seeing the largest score decline since 1990. National reading scores dropped by only three points in both grades when compared to the 2019 test.

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“Massachusetts once again leads the nation in overall NAEP scores, showing the strength of our education system, despite the challenges of the past few years,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement. “While students continue to perform well compared to other states, we know that the impacts of the pandemic continue to present challenges. Our Administration has made significant investments to help bridge learning gaps from the pandemic, and we remain committed to making sure every student can succeed.”

Said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley, “We're proud of the efforts of our students, families, and educators during these challenging years. At the same time, it's clear our students have lost ground, and we have more work ahead to recover.”

Riley is presenting the NAEP results to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education today, along with a summary of results from the spring MCAS tests and information about this year's accountability for schools and districts.

“Results on the spring 2022 MCAS tests were mixed, with mathematics and science and technology/engineering (STE) scores improving since 2021, and English language arts (ELA) scores declining. When compared to pre-pandemic levels (2019 and earlier), overall results show continued need for improvement,” Riley wrote in an Oct. 18 memo to the board.