MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) — With Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s inauguration into her second full term in office this week, she has promised to make education a top priority for her administration. The governor set the goal of Alabama ranking within the top 30 states in math and reading, but this begs the question where does Alabama rank currently in those subjects?
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP), also known as The Nation’s Report Card Alabama ranks 39 in reading and 40 in math among fourth-grade students in the rankings from 2022. All ranks used in this article are based on the average scale score that NEAP gives each of the jurisdictions it collects data for.
Alabama’s fourth graders did still come out below many of its neighbors. In math, Mississippi ranked 34, Georgia 29 and Tennessee 23. In reading, the closest to Alabama’s rank was Tennessee at 36 with Georgia ranked 28 and Mississippi ranked 22 in the nation. Florida fourth graders ranked in the top 10 both in 2022 and in 2019.
Both ranks are an improvement from 2019 when the last set of rankings was available. In that year, Alabama fourth graders ranked 52 in math, only beating out Puerto Rico, while Alabama ranked 49 in reading that year.
As a comparison, Georgia ranked 39 in reading in 2019 while Tennessee ranked 32, and Mississippi ranked 30. The only southern state that ranked below Alabama in reading that year was Louisiana at rank 50 followed by New Mexico at 51 and Alaska at 52, there was no 53rd-ranked jurisdiction that year due to a lack of data from Puerto Rico.
In the fourth-grade math rankings for 2019, out of Alabama’s neighbors, Georgia ranked 36, Tennessee ranked 26, and Mississippi ranked 24.
Eighth-grade students paint a slightly different picture. According to the NEAP in 2019 Alabama ranked 52 in math and 49 in reading, beating out Alaska, New Mexico and the District of Columbia. Close neighbor Mississippi ranked 46 in reading, while Georgia and Tennessee came out at 32 and 31 respectively. When it came to math the three states beat out Alabama with Mississippi ranking 47, Georgia 35 and Tennessee 31.
In 2022, the state’s math ranking saw a similar improvement that the fourth-grade rank did with Alabama rising to 47. The state still performed below other nearby states with Mississippi coming in at 46, Georgia at 32 and Tennessee at 30.
Yet when it comes to reading, the older student’s ranking did not improve in a way similar to the younger ones, with Alabama remaining at rank 49. In 2022, Georgia eighth graders ranked 20 in reading while Tennessee came in at 36 and Mississippi ranked 46.
NEAP is a congressionally mandated program administered by the National Center for Education, itself part of the U.S. Department of Education.
The NEAP compiles education data for each state and provides a ranking for grade four, among all 50 states, The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and students at American military installations. The assessments are given every two years to fourth and eighth-grade students and every four years to 12th-grade students. Though data for 12th-grade students is incomplete on NEAP’s website.
According to the data, Alabama has shown a general improvement trend, though whether that trend can increase remains to be seen.