4th Grade Math Proficiency

 Milestones for Student Success

What it is

Fourth grade math proficiency is an indicator of whether a student will be prepared for advanced math courses later in their academic career.

Why it matters

  • Understanding fractions is essential for foundational knowledge in algebra in later grades, a gateway subject for high school and college math courses.


“There is growing evidence that Professional Learning (PL) may be more productive when it focuses on (1) building subject-specific instructional practices rather than building content knowledge alone; (2) supporting teachers’ instruction with concrete instructional materials like curricula or formative assessment items rather than focusing only on general principles, and; (3) explicitly attending to teachers’ relationships with students.” – Building Better PL: How to Strengthen Teacher Learning

What the data tell us

Forty-three percent of Missouri fourth graders were proficient in math in the spring of 2022. This is up from 40% in 2021, according to results from the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP). 

Fourth graders in St. Louis City remained below the state rate, but also saw an increase from 12% in 2021 to 15% in 2022. Fourth graders in St. Louis County remained below the state rate at 42% in 2022. 

Considerable differences in competency exist within and among student groups. 

  • Eight percent of Black students in St. Louis City scored at grade level in math compared to 12% of Black students in St. Louis County, based on the MAP. This means that nine in 10 Black students across St. Louis are unprepared for algebra and by extension, the math and science courses that would equip them for postsecondary and career success.

  • A marked disparity exists between city and county students with individualized education plans (IEPs). The proficiency rate for students with IEPs in St. Louis City was 5%, compared to 21% of students with IEPs in St. Louis County.


Grade 3 reading proficiency bar chart for the year 2022. The percentile for city, county and state rates.
Grade 4 reading proficiency bar chart for the year 2022. The percentile for city, county and state rates with respective subgroups between St. Louis City, St. Louis County and state.

What we’re learning

Thousands of children in the St. Louis area and across Missouri finish fourth grade with math skills below grade level. Proficiency rates are still below pre-pandemic levels.


How to improve

  • Missouri can invest in teacher skill building that focuses on improving teachers’ instruction practices. Research shows that improving instructional practices  is more effective in improving student outcomes than improving instructor knowledge.  

  • Districts and schools can invest in strong mathematics curricula that scaffolds basic math skills to advanced skills.