“Nation’s Report Card” On Education Proficiency Levels Released;  NM’s Proficiency Test Scores  Last  In Math And Reading; Virtually All State Education Systems In Country Suffered Plummeting Test Scores Because Of Pandemic; Governor MLG’s Efforts At Public Education Reform

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what U.S. students know and can do in various subjects. NAEP is a congressionally mandated project administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education. The first national administration of NAEP occurred in 1969.  NAEP is known and referred to as the “Nations Report Card”.


On October 24, it was reported that NAEP released its 2022 Proficiency Test Scores  in Math and Reading.  Results for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 26 participating districts were released. Students’ academic achievement during the COVID-19 pandemic was compared to pre-pandemic performance on the 2019 NAEP mathematics assessment as well as to previous mathematics assessments dating back to 1990.

No state improved in 4th or 8th grade math, and only a few states improved in reading.  Those that did, did so by a maximum of two points


This blog article reports on NAEP’s 2022 proficiency test scores with an emphasis on New Mexico’s test scores.


Between January and March 2022, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics assessment was administered to representative samples of fourth- and eighth-grade students in the nation.

Quoting the report:

“In 2022, the average fourth-grade mathematics score decreased by 5 points and was lower than all previous assessment years going back to 2005.  the average score was one point higher compared to 2003. The average eighth-grade mathematics score decreased by 8 points compared to 2019 and was lower than all previous assessment years going back to 2003. In 2022, fourth- and eighth-grade mathematics scores declined for most states/jurisdictions as well as for most participating urban districts compared to 2019. Average scores are reported on NAEP mathematics scales at grades 4 and 8 that range from 0 to 500.”

“In 2022, average mathematics scores at fourth grade declined in all four census-defined regions of the country—Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. Scores were lower by 7, 3, 5, and 4 points, respectively, compared to 2019. Looking at state/jurisdiction performance for fourth-graders in public schools in 2022, average scores were lower in 43 states/jurisdictions and were not significantly different in 10 states/jurisdictions. This is the largest number of states/jurisdictions with score declines in fourth-grade mathematics going back to 2003. Among the states/jurisdictions with score declines, 13 scored lower than the national average score for public school students in 2022; 17 had average scores that were not different from the national public average; and 13 scored higher.”

Nationally, this year’s math test results yielded the largest drop in mathematics in the history of NAEP.



Between January and March 2022, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment was administered to representative samples of 4TH  and 8TH -grade students in the nation.

Quoting the report:

“In 2022, the average reading score at both fourth and eighth grade decreased by 3 points compared to 2019. At fourth grade, the average reading score was lower than all previous assessment years going back to 2005 and was not significantly different in comparison to 1992. At eighth grade, the average reading score was lower compared to all previous assessment years going back to 1998 and was not significantly different compared to 1992. In 2022, fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores declined for most states/jurisdictions compared to 2019. Average scores are reported on NAEP reading scales at grades 4 and 8 that range from 0 to 500.

In 2022, average reading scores at fourth grade declined in all four census-defined regions of the country—Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. Scores were lower by 5, 3, 3, and 2 points, respectively, compared to 2019. Looking at state/jurisdiction performance, average scores were lower in 30 states/jurisdictions and were not significantly different in 22 states/jurisdictions compared to 2019. This is the largest number of states/jurisdictions with score declines in fourth-grade reading going back to the initial assessment in 1992. Among the 30 states/jurisdictions with score declines since 2019, seven scored lower than the national average score for public school students in 2022; twenty had average scores that were not different from the national public average; and 3 scored higher.”


According to education officials, the NAEP tests were conducted in 29% of elementary schools and 42% of middle schools. The highest possible score on the NAEP test is 500.

In 4th and 8th  grade reading and math, New Mexico students came in shy of  dead last in proficiency out of the over-50 states and jurisdictions where the testing was administered. According to the report, New Mexico 4th and 8th graders lost ground in both math and reading.  This was  the case across the country.  National and New Mexico education officials attributed the declines in large part due to the corona virus pandemic and when there was widespread school closings and remote learning was instituted.

According to the 2022 NAEP report, New Mexico’s 4th  graders fell upwards of 14 points behind national public school student averages overall.  It was the same for 8th graders in math, but 8th graders lagged about 11 points behind in reading.

In math, New Mexico 4th and 8th graders dropped about 10 points from state scores in 2019. They lost less ground in reading, where fourth graders dropped about five points and eighth graders dropped four.

That came out to 21% reading proficiency and 19% math proficiency rates of and  among 4th  graders  which was 3% and 10%  points lower than in 2019.

A little more than 18% of eighth graders were proficient in reading and about 13% were proficient in math – a drop of five and eight percentage points, respectively.


It was on  July 20, 2018, Santa Fe District Court Judge Sarah Singleton ruled in the landmark public education case Yazzie v. State of New Mexico that the state of New Mexico violated the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with an education. The Court ruling centered on the guaranteed right under the New Mexico Constitution to provide a sufficient education for all children. The lawsuit alleged a severe lack of state funding, resources and services to help students, particularly children from low-income families, students of color, including Native Americans, English-language learners and students with disabilities. The Court found that the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) under Republican Governor Susana Martinez did not do the best it could with the funding it was given by the legislature to the education system.

On September 1, 2022, the Legislative Education Study Committee was told that despite more than $1 billion of investments responding to the findings in the Yazzie-Martinez consolidated lawsuit, it was unclear if students named in the lawsuit are “any better off.” According to a Legislative Finance Committee report, much of the responsibility for the failure falls squarely on school districts with the districts having problems implementing remedies to a judge’s findings that New Mexico wasn’t providing a sufficient education system for “at-risk” students. The state Public Education Department has also had issues making sure districts are doing what they need to do.

According to the 2022  NAEP  proficiency test score report, the  student groups identified in the landmark education case  Yazzie-Martinez  fell behind their national and statewide peers. They also almost all had lower scores this year than in 2019 with a few exceptions.

“The students who were in families impacted by poverty had a greater negative impact because of the pandemic,” Steinhaus said, noting that Yazzie-Martinez students represent over 70% of New Mexico students. “So the pandemic impacted us harder than a lot of other states.”

Math scores for New Mexico students identified in the lawsuit this year were worse for both grades than they were before the pandemic  as was the case with  fourth grade reading. APS Yazzie-Martinez students also almost universally lost ground in their scores in both subjects.

For the most part, students identified in New Mexico’s lawsuit also fared worse around the country this year than in 2019.

One bright spot among New Mexico’s data was that eighth graders in those student groups almost universally improved their reading scores from 2019, even if only by one  point. Nationally, that was also true for 8th grade English learners, and 8th  graders with disabilities’ scores didn’t change.

APS fourth graders with disabilities improved in math and reading, and 8th  grade students with disabilities and English learners improved in reading.

Gaps between APS Yazzie-Martinez student test scores and those collected from those student groups in large cities around the country also didn’t tend to widen dramatically over the pandemic, and in many cases improved.


Students at Albuquerque Public Schools, the largest district in the state, mostly held steady in their proficiency levels. While there were drops in both subjects for eighth graders, the NCES found they were “not significantly different” from 2019 scores.

However, fourth grade math proficiency, at about 24%, was around six percentage points lower than it was in 2019.

Overall APS student scores also dropped across the board from their pre-pandemic levels, though not as much as statewide numbers did. The largest declines came in math, where both fourth and eighth graders lost roughly seven points each.

APS students suffered from the pandemic, Superintendent Scott Elder said. Still, he noted that Albuquerque was in a “much better place” than a lot of other places in New Mexico when it comes to accessibility to things like the internet.  And while APS students were still behind other large cities in both grades and subject areas, those gaps didn’t widen as some thought they would, he pointed out.  Elder told the Albuquerque Journal this:

“You don’t look at the scores and think ‘OK, great. … We lost a little bit, but we didn’t lose as much as I think people were afraid [we would. … We [did] see a significant decline in the math, but that’s similar to what we see nationally.”


Teachers this year said they felt more overworked, according to surveys given to them in conjunction with the test, and some said they felt less confident that they would be able to help their students close pandemic-related gaps.  To address that problem, Steinhaus said the state is continuing an ongoing effort to bolster its mental health support for teachers and students alike.

New Mexico is also rolling out more tutoring for students and families, particularly those in schools with high populations of economically-disadvantaged families.

In January, Steinhaus added, the state Public Education Department aims to roll out more high-dosage tutoring – focused, small-group tutoring three times a week – which will also emphasize math. Steinhaus said this:

“We’ve got to continue improving literacy. But this year, our primary focus is going to be on mathematics. ” 

The link to the quoted news source is here:



U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in reaction to the 2022 NAEP report said this:

“The results in today’s Nation’s Report Card are appalling and unacceptable. … But let’s also be very clear here – the data prior to the pandemic did not reflect an education system that was on the right track. The pandemic simply made it worse.”

National Center for Education Statistics Commissioner Peggy Carr said  that each state’s varying response to the pandemic, especially in terms of when students returned to in-person learning, was an influential,  but not the deciding  factor in test performance results. Carr said this:

“There’s nothing in this data that says we can draw a straight line between the time spent in remote learning … and student achievement.”

New Mexico Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus had this to say:

“This is what we expected [because of the pandemic.  the scores are] not acceptable and not OK.”


In response to the Yazzie v. State of New Mexico landmark public education decision that ruled the state of New Mexico violated the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with an education, Govern Lujan Grisham undertook to fully fund the state’s efforts to reform the State’s public education system and she was highly successful.  It has taken a full 4 years to get the job done.

Lujan Grisham succeeded in securing over $1 Billion dollars for public education during the 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions. In addition to the dramatic increases in public education funding, Lujan Grisham administration created  the Early Childhood Department, issued mandates to the Children, Youth and Families and Public Education departments, and increased the number CYFD social workers by at least 125.

An Early Childhood Trust Fund of $320 million was also created.  The base pay for teachers was increased by upwards of 20% and have risen to $50,000, $60,000 and $70,000 depending on the level of years of teacher experience.  During the 2022 New Mexico legislative session, more than $70 million was allocated to tribal entities to help offer culturally relevant lesson plans and access to virtual and after-school programs for those studentsThe money will be used to create culturally relevant learning programs, including Native language programs, for students in the K-12 system.

Governor Lujan Grisham partnered with sovereign nations, tribes, and pueblos to make long-awaited investments in education in tribal communities and because of the Governor’s efforts, New Mexico is now leading the nation in setting aside funds for bilingual and multicultural education.


In her campaign for governor, Governor Lujan Grisham promised to be a champion for New Mexico’s educators, and she has kept her promise. Under Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s leadership, New Mexico teachers received the most significant back- to-back raises for educators in 15 years and has successfully reduced teacher vacancies by nearly 25% in 2019. This year, the Governor delivered a 7% salary increase and a base pay increase for every New Mexico educator, making New Mexico teacher wages the highest in the region. Governor Lujan Grisham​​ also put tens of millions of dollars toward scholarships for educator training programs, helping more than 3,000 New Mexico teachers this year alone.

New Mexicans have long called for universal pre-k and affordable childcare.   Governor Lujan Grisham delivered by expanding affordable, high-quality childcare to thousands of New Mexico families and secured permanent funding to ensure New Mexico will continue to provide families with affordable options for their children’s education for decades to come. Lujan Grisham established universal pre-k for four-year-olds and greatly expanded pre-k for three-year-olds.

Governor Lujan Grisham has made New Mexico a national leader in guaranteeing 100% tuition-free higher education for all New Mexico students.  The Governor is eliminating barriers to higher education like student debt and burdensome fees that keep too many students, no matter their age, background, or family situation, from getting the training and the job they want and deserve.  By creating and funding the Opportunity Scholarships and restoring the promise of the Lottery Scholarships, Lujan Grisham expanded scholarships for 2-year, 4-year and certificate programs, helping tens of thousands of New Mexico students attend college for free.


On November 8, the New Mexico Constitutional Amendment 1 that will provide  funding for Early Childhood Programs passed by a landslide on 70.34% YES  vote to a 29.66% NO vote.  A “yes” vote supported allocating 1.25% more in funding from the Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) to early childhood education and the public school permanent fund.  Passage of the constitutional amendment makes New Mexico the first state to guarantee a right to early childhood education while directing substantial, steady funding to child care and early education. The funding will not be a one-time infusion, but a steady stream of about $150 million a year for early childhood programs. It could very well allow New Mexico to achieve a system of free child care and preschool for all state residents.

“New Mexico voters didn’t just approve the allocation of more dollars. They changed their constitution so that it now enshrines a right to education for children ages zero to five alongside the previous guarantee for children in grades K-12, making it the first state with such a guarantee.”

Links to quoted news sources are here:




In the 2022 New Mexico’s Governor race between Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Mark Ronchetti,  as well as all other states where elections were held for Governor, the debate was hot and heavy about how quickly and when  to reopen the schools during the COVID 19 pandemic.  It turns out that no one was right on the issue on whether to delay school openings or to open the schools quickly.

The results of NAEP report revealed that student performance across the board between “early opening” schools and “delay opening” of schools suffered across the board and that the test scores went down dramatically.  The test scores for 4th graders and 8th graders in reading declined nation wide in reading. The test scores for 4th graders and 8th graders in math showed the biggest drop in scores since the testing bagan in 1990.

Republican Governor’s Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abott of Texas made a big deal out of opening their state’s schools in the fall of 2020.  Democrats New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and California Governor Gavin Newsom moved more slowly in reopening the schools.  The NAEP report based on the testing revealed student performance suffered equally despite the early opening of the late opening of the schools.

New Mexico can take very little comfort that New Mexico is not alone and the most of the United States suffered similar setbacks.  New Mexico’s 2022 standardized tests provides a grim reminder of the lingering effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, and of the status of the education system across the state.

Now that Governor Lujan Grisham has been elected to a second 4 year term and that the pandemic has subsided, she needs to finish the job of public education reform that she once called New Mexico’s Moonshot.  With all the funding she has secured over the last 4 years for public education along with the approval of the constitutional amendment, there will be very little excuse for failure at public education reform.  If she in fact accomplishes it,  that alone will be her lasting legacy for generations  and she will go down as one of the states best Governors.

Let’s hope Governor Lujan Grisham  does not get Potomac fever mid term and decide to bail out of the state and go to work for President Biden as was the possibility when she was being considered for Secretary of Interior.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.