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Research Report

What Does “Below Basic” Mean on NAEP Reading?

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The fourth-grade 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Reading assessment shows that 34% of the nation’s students perform below the NAEP Basic level. However, because there is no achievement-level description for below Basic, educators and policymakers lack information on the nature of the reading difficulties that these students face. To help fill this gap, we analyze data from the 2018 NAEP Oral Reading Fluency study. We find that, compared with students who perform at the NAEP Basic level and above, students who perform below NAEP Basic level are much more likely to have poor oral reading fluency and word reading skills. See the report (opens in a new window)


White TG, Sabatini JP, White S. What Does “Below Basic” Mean on NAEP Reading? Educational Researcher. September 2021. doi:10.3102/0013189X211044144 (opens in a new window)