RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction released its report on last year's student test performance results.
The percentage of students meeting the standard for grade-level proficiency when it comes to reading increased from the previous school year for all grades. The biggest improvement being in fourth grade.
When it comes to math, the percentage of students meeting the GLP standard increased over the previous school year for all grades.
One surprise came for science scores. The percentage of students meeting the GLP standard actually decreased for eighth grade.
Both the proficiency rates for Wake County students on state exams and on-time graduation rates increased during the 2022-23 school year.
For reference pre-pandemic, in 2018-19, the proficiency rates in Wake County for state standardized tests was over 65%, before dropping below 60% during the pandemic. It's climbed steadily in the last three years and now sits at 63.4%, according to this latest data.
Statewide, there's a similar trend, with proficiency rates up over 8% across North Carolina since bottoming out in 2020-21.
This year's report mirrors last year's which indicated students' performance was improving, after declining in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Julian Fuentes was in second grade when COVID-19 took him out of the classroom. He said not having his teachers' support every day made learning - even the basics - a challenge.
"They make it fun to learn they don't make it just like it's boring, and they stretch out all the things you have to do," said Fuentes, now a fifth grader at Rand Road Elementary in Garner. "We don't just like to be doing everything and make a certain amount of time."
Julian's mother Lorena said she tried to guide him, but it wasn't the same as the instruction he was used to.
"You're not prepared like the teachers really are to be able to help them and give them that, you know, education that they really need," she said.
Julian's principal acknowledged the struggle the last few years have presented, and said students are only now becoming truly comfortable in the classroom - adding she believes their success comes down to the person-to-person interaction that they missed out on during virtual learning.
"So I think it all really comes down to relationships. So when you have relationships and kids feel comfortable talking to someone or getting their questions and needs answered and met, then it opens up their ability to be able to learn because their core needs are met," said Tammy Carey.
Carey said they're trying to rebuild the foundation that existed pre-pandemic to keep the trend in test scores continuing upward.
"We're going to continue doing what we do and looking at ways that we can make sure that all kids are growing and that all kids are learning and that we're really investing in the whole child, both academically as well as socially, emotionally," she said.
When you look at the national numbers, math scores among fourth and eighth grade students across the country experienced their largest decline in decades, according to results released last year from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.