News Release

November 22, 2023

Nebraska Schools Show Growth on Statewide Assessment and Accountability

Video of the Commissioner’s News Conference is available for download:

The Nebraska Department of Education released the Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS) results and the Accountability for a Quality Education System Today and Tomorrow, or AQuESTT classifications today. Both reports provide insight into how students are performing academically on Nebraska’s state standards.

NSCAS English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics and Science are rigorous assessments with high expectations for postsecondary readiness. NSCAS ELA and Mathematics are given in grades three through eight. NSCAS science assessments are given in fifth and eighth grades and Nebraska juniors take the ACT assessment.

This year the NDE had the opportunity to set new cut scores, the scores that determine levels of proficiency. This happens anytime there is a new assessment or a significant change in an existing assessment. The English Language Arts assessment was new for 2022.

These new cut scores better reflect student achievement in Nebraska when compared to students nationally. For years Nebraska has been near the top of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessments and rank high when compared to other states that test the majority of their students on the ACT.

The following are among the key findings from this year’s NSCAS:

  • 58% of Nebraska students across in grades 3-8 were considered proficient in English Language Arts (performing at the On Track or Advanced level), and 61% were proficient in Math.
  • More than 70% of Nebraska students in grades 3-8 were proficient on the NSCAS Science assessment.
  • At the high school level, Nebraska’s juniors were 46% proficient in ELA, 42% in Math, and 49% in Science.
  • Moving forward, there will still be a need to focus on specific student groups that show large achievement gaps.
    • 27% of students with disabilities were proficient in English Language Arts, and 29% were proficient in Math
    • 43% of students who qualified for free or reduced lunch were proficient in ELA and 45% for Math.
    • 30% of English learners were proficient in ELA, and 33% were proficient in Math.

“While Nebraska’s statewide assessments showed student and school growth and improvement, it also showcased the need for focused efforts in several areas,” said Commissioner Brian Maher. “We need to continue to work together as a state to provide the best possible opportunities for every student to succeed and be prepared for life after school.”

In addition to assessment results, Nebraska released accountability ratings. State and federal law require the NDE to annually classify and designate schools to provide signals for specific supports. Nebraska’s system, AQuESTT – helps ensure all students across all backgrounds and circumstances have access to opportunities and access. AQuESTT annually classifies schools and districts as Excellent, Great, Good, and Needs Support to Improve.

A breakdown of classifications indicated that 303 (27 percent) of schools were classified as Excellent, 437 (40 percent) were Great, 288 (26 percent) were Good, and 76 (7 percent) were designated as Needs Support to Improve.

More information on assessment and accountability results can be found on the Nebraska Education Profile,

David Jespersen
Public Information Officer, Nebraska Department of Education