College-and-Career-Ready in Math

Percent of North Carolina students in grades 3-8 who earned a college-and-career-ready score on the end-of-grade math exam

Last updated: 2019

= Top southern state

(not available for all indicators)

Percent of North Carolina students in grades 3-8 who earned a college-and-career-ready score on the End-of-Grade Math exam.

Forty-one percent of North Carolina 3rd through 8th graders earned college-and-career-ready scores on the End-of-Grade Math exam in 2019. The North Carolina End-of-Grade Math exams are designed to measure student performance on the goals, objectives, and competencies established as grade-level standards.

By 2030, the goal is to have 86% of students earn college-and-career-ready scores in math. This goal is aligned with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Every Student Succeeds Consolidated State Plan.

Early math skills are a strong predictor of long-term success in both math and literacy.

The critical thinking, problem solving, and logic skills developed from proficiency in early-grade math prepare students for high school math, where achievement predicts both postsecondary enrollment and completion, as well as well-paying careers and earnings growth over time.

Meeting the 2030 Goal

North Carolina needs 325,547 more students to earn a college-and-career-ready score to meet the statewide goal of 86% college-and-career-ready in math.

In 2019, 41% of North Carolina students in grades 3-8 earned college-and-career-ready scores on the math End-of-Grade exam.

Bar chart showing percentage of NC public school 3-8 graders earning Level 4 or 5 on end-of-grade math exam, 2019, by geographic area, sex, demographic group, economic status, and overall NC state average.

By geography

Students from urban counties were most likely to earn college-and-career-ready scores in math (44%), followed by students from suburban counties (42%). Students from rural counties were the least likely to earn college-and-career-ready scores in math (36%); there were no differences between rural counties outside of metro areas and rural counties within metro areas.

By sex

There are few differences between male and female students in math: 41% of female students earned college-and-career-ready scores compared to 40% of male students.

By race/ethnicity

Asian students were the most likely to be college-and-career-ready in math: 74%. White students were the only other group where more than half (53%) of students earned college-and-career-ready scores on the math exam. Less than half of multiracial (39%), Hispanic (32%), American Indian (26%), and black (22%) students earned college-and-career-ready scores in math.

By economic disadvantage

Economically disadvantaged students—meaning students receiving free or reduced price lunch—were less than half as likely as not economically disadvantaged students to earn college-and-career-ready scores in math: 26% of economically disadvantaged students earned college-and-career-ready scores compared to 55% of non-economically disadvantaged students.

Where does the data for College-and-Career-Ready in Math come from?

Data for student performance in the 2018-19 school year is reported by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI). Students are classified as “college-and-career-ready” if they score at a Level 4 or higher on the End-of-Grade Mathematics exam.

How was the data calculated?

This is a direct download from NC DPI (2018-19 School Assessment and Other Indicator Data (XLSX)).

Who is included?

All North Carolina public school students in grades 3-8.

Who isn’t included?

Some groups of students are excluded from the proficiency calculations:

  • students with an NC DPI approved medical exemption.
  • students in their first or second year in a U.S. school.

For complete details on inclusions and exclusions, see the NC DPI Business Rules.

Who is working on this in NC?

Help improve this section

If you know of an organization that is working on this topic in NC, please let us know on the feedback form.

Further research and literature

Adelman, C. (2006). The Toolbox Revisited: Paths to Degree Completion From High School Through College. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

Altonji, J. G. (1995). The effects of high school curriculum on education and labor market outcomes. The Journal of human resources30(3), 409–438.

Duncan, G. J., Dowsett, C. J., Claessens, A., Magnuson, K., Huston, A. C., Klebanov, P., Pagani, L. S., et al. (2007). School readiness and later achievement. Developmental Psychology43(6), 1428–1446.

Lauen, D. L., & Tomberlin, T. R. (2018). North Carolina K-12 Achievement. Raleigh, NC: myFutureNC.

Murnane, R. J., Willett, J. B., & Levy, F. (1995). The growing importance of cognitive skills in wage determination. The review of economics and statistics77(2), 251.

Rose, H., & Betts, J. R. (2001). Math Matters:  The Links Between High School Curriculum, College Graduation, and Earnings. San Francisco, CA: Public Policy Institute of California.

Siegler, R. S., Duncan, G. J., Davis-Kean, P. E., Duckworth, K., Claessens, A., Engel, M., Susperreguy, M. I., et al. (2012). Early predictors of high school mathematics achievement. Psychological Science23(7), 691–697.


What test levels correspond to college-and-career-ready scores?

Students are classified as college-and-career-ready if they score at Level 4 or Level 5 on the end-of-grade exam. Both scores are considered on track for college and career:

  • Level 4 demonstrates a thorough understanding of grade level content standards.
  • Level 5 demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of grade level content standards and indicates that the student is prepared for advanced content in their next grade or course.

Is college-and-career-ready the same as grade level proficient?

No. College-and-career-ready is a more rigorous standard than grade level proficient. Students who score at a Level 3 on end-of-grade exams are considered grade level proficient. Level 3 demonstrates a sufficient understanding of grade level content standards, but these students may need some support to succeed with content in their next grade or course.

Are North Carolina’s end-of-grade exams the same as NAEP?

No. NAEP exams are not comparable to end-of-grade exams. The National Assessment of Educational Progress is “a national assessment of students at different ages and in different subjects. Data is reported every two years, and North Carolina looks at the NAEP math grade reading assessment scores to determine how NC students are doing in math proficiency over time and compared to the national average. Since the NAEP is a sample of fourth graders, rather than assessing every fourth-grader in the state, NAEP data is not available at the school district or county level.”


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