More on the Minnesota v. Iowa academic comparison

A recent MinnPostfact brief” article used national assessment data to show that, on average, Minnesota’s scores for fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading have been slightly higher than Iowa’s over the last decade. But comparing declines in scores between the two states is worth adding to the conversation.

In 2022, the latest data available, Iowa’s average fourth-grade math and reading scores were higher than Minnesota’s, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Minnesota’s eighth-grade students outperformed Iowa’s in math, and eighth-graders in both states scored the same in reading. When looking over the past 11 years of available data, Minnesota, on average, does have higher reading and math scores than Iowa, as MinnPost notes.

Over that same period, Minnesota student performance in math and reading has experienced steeper score declines compared to Iowa. For example, the average Iowa fourth-grade math score on NAEP in 2022 was 240 (higher than Minnesota’s), which is only a three-point drop from its 2011 average score of 243. Minnesota fourth-grade math scores have dropped 10 points over the same time period. Iowa’s average fourth-grade reading score in 2022, also higher than Minnesota’s, dropped three points compared to Minnesota’s seven-point decline over the last decade.

In eighth-grade math, while Minnesota’s 2022 average score was higher than Iowa’s, achievement results declined 15 points since 2011 compared to Iowa’s eight-point decline. Even in eighth-grade reading, where both states had the same average score in 2022, Minnesota’s dropped double that of Iowa’s — 10 points to Iowa’s five points — compared to 2011 scores.

So, yes, long-term averages show Minnesota students outperforming Iowa students, but the steeper declines Minnesota students have experienced have caused Iowa students to score higher than and keep pace with their Minnesota peers they once trailed in fourth-grade math and reading and eighth-grade reading.

National Assessment of Educational Progress, Average Score

4th Grade Math
MN 4th Grade MathIA
4th Grade Reading
4th Grade Reading
8th Grade Math
MN 8th Grade MathIA
8th Grade Reading
8th Grade Reading
11-year change in average score-3-10-3-7-8-15-5-10
Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress data compiled by American Experiment