The results are in and they show that Arizona test scores are a few points below the national average.

The National Report Card dropped last week, it has served as a national yardstick of student achievement for more than 50 years. The report comes out every year by a division within the U.S. Department of Education.

Arizona students perform just under the national public school average, according to the National Report Card.

In math, 4th grade students tested three points under the national average; 8th graders were two points under.

Both grade levels were closer to the national benchmarks in reading which is only one point below.

In a state-by-state comparison, Arizona is solidly in the middle of the pack. Fourth grade students achieved 232 out of a total of 500 possible points in math.

Twenty-three states, mostly in the Midwest and Northeast, had significantly higher scores while 4th graders in 22 states performed at about the same level. Seven states, plus Washington D.C., had significantly lower math scores.

Overall, reading scores were more evenly distributed across the country. Only eight states, including Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming had significantly higher reading scores. Six states and D.C. were lower. In all, 37 states had comparable reading scores.

Changes due to COVID-19 most likely played a role in this years assessment scores. While data is not available for the COVID-19 years, 2020 and 2021, a comparison of 2019 to the most recent scores shows a drop in performance in nearly every tested jurisdiction.

Students were hit particularly hard in math scores.

In Arizona, math scores fell six points for 4th graders and nine points for 8th graders. Students fared better in reading with 4th graders only losing one point and no changes recorded for 8th graders.

Andrea Barrera, who was a teacher for six years before moving into the Cartwright School Districts administration office, said theyve seen students struggling during COVID and afterward.

Kids who were getting into third grade were having a hard time decoding. Wed expect our students to read fluently at a third-grade level or at a second-grade level be able to construct sentences and even begin to learn how to write paragraphs and essays in third grade, said Barrera.

She added that some students lacked those literacy and problem-solving skills, “Students were also struggling with social skills and behavioral issues, which then also affected their academics,” said Barrera.

We really needed to focus on intervening to support them, she said.

In an effort to continue helping students stay on track and bounce back from COVID, the district says it will be adding more STEM to all of its schools. Just like classes theyd have for physical eduation, art and music, the schools will have a STEM special class as well.

Theyll attend that once a week and what that really helps them do is engage in problem-solving, added Barrera.

As they work to help students with their education, Barrera wants to emphasize that the test results arent the only measure of a students academic performance. While the national report card took a sum of districts across the state, each districts performance may vary.

As long as we remember that this is for the students and the community, its not about getting those high test scores, but its really just about making sure our students have the skills to be responsible, educated citizens, then I think its going to be fine, she said.