South Dakota school scores remain above-average on National Report Card

The 2022 National Assessment of Education Progress report assesses math and reading for grades 4 and 8

The South Dakota Department of Education released their education report card on Tuesday. (Republic Illustration)
The 2022 National Assessment of Education Progress was released Monday, Oct. 24.
Mitchell Republic Illustration
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PIERRE — South Dakota schools have stayed above the national average in achievement and experienced less volatility than other states over the past two years.

That’s according to the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress report, also known as the National Report Card, released Monday, Oct. 24. The summary is a nationwide assessment of reading and math administered every two years to students in fourth and eighth grades across the United States.

South Dakota’s fourth-grade reading score was 218, which was higher than the rest of the nation at 216, but down from 222 in 2019. South Dakota eighth-graders scored a 262 on reading, which was also higher than the national average at 259, and near the 263 recorded two years ago.

The state’s math scores followed a similar pattern to its reading scores, according to a release from the South Dakota Department of Education, showing scores above the national average and with a lesser decline than other states. Eighth grade math came in at 281 compared to 287 in 2019, and fourth grade math fell from 241 to 239.

The report serves as a guide on how students in the state are performing and indicates where more attention may be needed to improve.


“South Dakota relies on a variety of data sources to drive decisions about how and where to invest our state-level efforts and dollars,” said Tiffany Sanderson, secretary of education for South Dakota. “NAEP is one of those sources that can help us understand how our students are performing and areas that may need attention.”

Among the plans to address shortcomings is a statewide literacy initiative that will focus on research-based strategies for teaching students how to read, write, speak and listen. The initiative, born out of the impact of COVID-19 on school learning, will incorporate training for teachers to implement best practices and a promotional campaign encouraging families to read with their youngsters.

Literacy remains a critical skill for elementary students, and one that paves the way for learning in all subjects, Sanderson said.

“Up until fourth grade, students are mostly learning to read. It’s at that point students start reading to learn. It’s critical to have strong literacy skills in place by the end of third grade, as that lays the foundation for future learning,” Sanderson said in a statement.

In North Dakota, math scores also declined between 2019 and 2022. Eighth grade math scores dropped from 286 to 278 and fourth grade scores fell from 243 to 240. In reading, eighth graders went down from 263 to 258 and fourth graders saw a decline from 221 to 218.

Minnesota fourth graders saw their math scores drop from 248 to 239 and their reading scores fell from 222 to 216. For eighth graders, math scores came in at 280, down 11 points from 2019, and reading scores fell from 264 to 260.

Scores on the National Report Card range from 0 to 500.

The COVID-19 is considered a contributing factor to overall declining test scores across the nation, and while the latest report indicates South Dakota students holding their own against students from around the county, there is room for improvement, Sanderson said.


L.B. Williams Elementary was the latest stop for family making rounds to all 50 states in order to spread the good word about reading

“While I’m glad to see that our students have held their own compared to other states, South Dakota has room for improvement. Our scores have slipped over time, and we need to ensure our students are receiving the best instruction and learning opportunities available,” Sanderson said.

Statistics from the 2022 National Assessment of Education Progress can be found at

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at
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