New Jersey public school students achieved top scores in the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) assessments for 2017, known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” according to the state Department of Education.

According to the 2017 NAEP data, New Jersey’s fourth-grade students’ scores were tied as the highest in the nation in both reading and math, and the Garden State’s eighth graders’ scores were tied for second in the nation in reading and math.

NAEP is considered the only apples-to-apples comparison of student achievement, since the same assessments are administered to a representative sample of students in every state.

“The most recent NAEP scores reflect the hard work and achievement of our state’s public school students,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “Although our schools continue to face challenges, New Jersey’s local school board members, staff, parents and students have  a great deal to be proud of.”

Acting Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet also praised the performance of the students and their teachers. “This is an outstanding accolade for our students and educators,” Dr. Repollet said. “Our educators provide the learning environment for our students to thrive, and our children are rising to the challenge.”

The NAEP assessment is given every two years by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), an arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

The last NAEP report, from 2015, had New Jersey fourth graders tied for fourth in the nation in reading, and sixth in math. New Jersey eighth graders were ranked fourth in the nation in math and sixth in reading in 2015.

For 2017, New Jersey tied for first in the nation with Massachusetts and Department of Defense schools in fourth-grade reading. In fourth-grade math, New Jersey tied for first in the nation with five states and the Department of Defense schools. In eighth-grade reading last year, New Jersey tied for second with the Department of Defense schools and four other states, and in eighth-grade math New Jersey tied for second with five states and Department of Defense schools.

More information about the assessment can be found on the NAEP website.