INDIANAPOLIS – Results from a national assessment show students in Indiana and across the nation are still behind where they were before the pandemic.

It’s one of the few ways states can compare their performance in education: A nationwide test called the National Assessment of Educational Progress is given to fourth and eighth graders at a random selection of schools every few years.

In the first exam since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2022 results show Indiana students outperforming most other states in math and scoring around the national average for reading.

“While our math scores are above national average, our reading scores being at national average, it’s just not good enough,” said Indiana Education Secretary Katie Jenner.

But students are still testing below pre-pandemic levels. Scores were lower than they were in 2019 when the test was last given.

The results show in 2022, 33% of Hoosier fourth graders and 31% of the state’s eighth graders scored at or above proficiency on the reading portion of the exam.

In 2019, 37% of Indiana fourth and eighth graders achieved those scores.

The data shows a bigger decline in math. In 2022, 40% of Hoosier fourth graders and 30% of eighth graders tested at or above proficiency.

That’s a 7-point drop for both grade levels compared to 2019: 47% of Indiana fourth graders and 37% of eighth graders scored at or above proficiency in math that year.

“I think we have to do everything we can not only as a state, but also local leadership,” Jenner said.

School officials say students are showing growth but still struggling in both subject areas.

“It’s really kid by kid where they’re feeling more strong or where they need more support,” explained Anne Olson, elementary curriculum coordinator for Wayne Township schools, where some students took the nationwide exam this past spring.

Olson said it could take another year or two to get students performing at pre-pandemic levels.

“It’s going to be a combination of whole group, small group and individual support for all of our students,” she explained.

School officials also hope to see some new state initiatives – such as tutoring grants and a new reading program – make an impact.

“Some of those things, in addition to the things that your schools have to offer, I think can help give that extra support to those kids who need a little bit more than others,” said Steve Bair, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction at Beech Grove City Schools.

Nearly 7,000 Hoosier students took the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2022, according to the Indiana Department of Education.