Alaska’s schools are among the worst performing educational institutions in the nation. According to the latest report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Alaska fourth and eighth grade students are near the bottom of the country when it comes to reading and mathematics.

The report was released on Oct. 24 by today by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

Nationally, schools in general saw large declines in academic performance across the board from 2019 to 2022. While many educational leaders blame Covid shutdowns for the dismal scores, the academic deterioration began long before pandemic restrictions on in-person learning.

NCES Commissioner Peggy Carr said academic recovery “cannot simply be about returning to what was ‘normal’ before the pandemic, as the pandemic laid bare an ‘opportunity gap’ that has long existed. It also showed how every student was vulnerable to the pandemic’s disruptions. We do not have a moment to waste.”


Alaska’s Fourth grade math scores were just 225.9 out of a possible 500 in 2022. Only three regions – the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and New Mexico – scored worse than Alaska.

Alaska’s 2022 math score is the lowest on record since 1996, but the declining performance is part of a trend that has played out for years, with scores dropping from a high of 237.2 in 2007 to 232.3 in 2019.

Overall, 73% of Alaska 4th graders fell below “proficient in math, with 35% below even a “basic” level and just 4.7% considered “advanced.”

If left unaddressed, this could alter the trajectories and life opportunities of a whole cohort of young people…

Alaska’s 4th grade reading scores were even worse. Nationally, only New Mexico had a lower score.

On average, Alaska 4th graders scored a 203.8 out of a possible 500 in the 2022 reading assessments. Like math, reading was in steady decline well before Covid, with scores dropping from 214.4 in 2007 to 204.3 in 2019.

Overall, nearly 48% of Alaska 4th graders were below “basic” reading levels in 2022 and more than 75% below “proficient.” Just 5% were deemed “advanced” readers.


Eighth grade reading and math scores also fell in Alaska and across most of the country from 2019 to 2022.

Only five regions were worse than Alaska in terms of 8th grade reading, and just 14 had lower scores in math.

Alaska dropped from a high score of 283.2 in 2011 to an all-time low of 269.9 in 2022 math scores. That’s out of a possible 500 points. Again, the decline could be seen well before Covid, dropping steadily from 2011 to 2019.

In 2022, nearly 76% of Alaska 8th graders were below “proficient” math levels with 41% falling below “basic.” Only 5.1% were considered “advanced” in math.

“Eighth grade is a pivotal moment in students’ mathematics education, as they develop key mathematics skills for further learning and potential careers in mathematics and science,” said Daniel J. McGrath, acting as NCES associate commissioner for assessment. “If left unaddressed, this could alter the trajectories and life opportunities of a whole cohort of young people, potentially reducing their abilities to pursue rewarding and productive careers in mathematics, science, and technology.”

Reading scores were similar, with 74% of Alaska 8th graders falling below “proficient” and nearly 37% below “basic.” Just 2.6% were considered “advanced” readers.

From 2011 to 2019. reading scores dropped from an all-time high of 261.2 to a record low of 252.3. In 2022, the average reading score was at 252.5.

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More than 70% Alaska students fall below ‘proficient’ in reading and math

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Neil DeWitt says:

    So now we have proof that throwing more money at the school district isn’t doing anything but making administration’s pockets bulge. It’s time yo stop sending more money until they change their teaching habits. what they’re doing isn’t working.

  • Sammy says:

    but there’s still time in the school day for the transgender stuff, and teaching them about… know.

  • Michael Alexander says:

    How does the state of Alaska rank nationally in spending? We are in the top ten nationally. The only state we beat out, New Mexico, spends roughly half of the amount Alaska spends per student. The other states spending half as much as Alaska, include Florida, which was ranked #1 in reading a couple of years ago.
    Perhaps we should cast a critical eye at not only the curriculum but also the faculty employed by our public schools.

  • Karl C says:

    When is everyone going to pull their kids from the public school system? Those who leave their kids in the system are failing their children.