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K-12 Student Achievement has Plummeted Nationwide, and It's Even Worse in Oklahoma

There has been a sharp decline in K-12 student achievement in the United States, and the decline is particularly pronounced in Oklahoma.

Recent results from the Nation’s Report Card have sparked nationwide concern due to record declines, including the largest declines ever recorded in math for fourth and eighth graders.

Troublingly, Oklahoma public school students fared even worse nearly across the board than the national average. For example, Oklahoma fourth graders suffered an eight-point decrease in math from 2019 to 2022; the national average for the period was a five-point drop.

The decline was even worse among Oklahoma eighth graders, who experienced a 13-point drop from 2019 to 2022. That decrease gives Oklahoma public schools the dubious distinction of experiencing the largest mathematics score-point decline among eighth graders in the nation.

"Oklahoma cannot grow its economy if we continue to rank near the bottom of the country in student achievement,” said Ben Lepak, executive director of TheState Chamber Research Foundation. “Oklahoma Businesses are clamoring for the talent pipeline needed to build, grow and expand, and they can’t find the workers they need to do so.”

A solid K-12 education system that prepares students for a career is fundamental to a healthy workforce, Lepak noted.

“With educational outcomes like these, we are setting kids up for failure before they even really launch their career journey," he said. "No matter which career pathway is in a child’s future—college, a trade, the military or some other occupation—they all require the ability to read, write and do math. These failing scores should be cause for something nearing a state of emergency in Oklahoma education.”


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