Students across the tri-state area scored worse on their National Assessment of Educational Progress tests in 2022 than they did in 2019.

The NAEP, also known as the nation’s progress report, charts students as they go through elementary, middle, and high school with students testing first and 4th grade then in 8th grade, and finally in 12th grade. The scores are measured against other students and progress has been tracked since the 1980s.

Across all three states, a drop of some kind was observed, though in some cases the drop was not considered statically significant. The 2022 results do not include the 12th-grade results.

Of the three states in the tri-state area, only Nebraska saw a significant decline for both their fourth graders and their eighth graders. In Nebraska fourth graders declined by three points from 222 to 219. 8th graders on the other hand declined by nearly twice as much falling from 264 to 259.

Iowa was one of less than half the schools in the nation that did not see a significant decline in their fourth-grade or eighth-grade test results. For 4th-grade test results, there was a three-point decline from 221 to 2:18 and for 8th-grade test results, there was a 2-point decline from 360 to 260. Nationally the average decline was three points both for the 4th-grade test and the 8th-grade test, a number which falls right inside statistical significance.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds cited her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, and her decisions regarding schools, as the reason Iowa students didn’t see a significant drop in their test scores.

“Our students are ahead of their peers across the country because we kept our schools open and gave parents the choice of what was best for their children,” Reynolds said.

According to Reynolds Iowa was the first in the nation to reopen schools with in-person learning beginning in August 2020. Reynolds said that her decision was not made out of political gain or hopes of getting headlines but because she thought it would be the right thing to do for students. She said the test scores prove she did the right thing.