What do 12th graders know?

Twelfth graders are declining to take the National Assessment of Educational Progress test, given to a sample of students nationwide. After all, students don’t get their individual scores on the “nation’s report card.” And the test doesn’t do a good job of measuring 12th graders readiness for college, work or the military.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation’s report card, needs a significant makeover at the 12th-grade level, according to a commission created last year by the test’s governing board to review the exam.

Among the biggest recommendations is expanding the test’s basic purpose so that it gauges not just what 12th-graders know but also their readiness for work, college or the military. Such a change would require government approvals that could take years.

The commission also recommended that the test be required in every state in reading and math every two years, just as it is in those subjects in grades four and eight. That would produce the first-ever state results for high school seniors — not just a national average — to help policy-makers evaluate their school standards and make comparisons to other states.

A sample of students are chosen to take the test at each grade level; nearly half of 12th graders refuse. That weakens reliability. One incentive considered is a letter from the president thanking the student for participating.

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  1. I wonder who wants to make it a requirement. Wouldn’t be those who make money off the test. Nah, that would never happen./sarcasm off

  2. A letter from the president is suppose to be enough incentive for a senior to take an additional test? Personally, I would line my cat box with a letter from the current president.

  3. If there’s no penalty for flunking the test, how would you prevent the students from supplying nonsense answers? Truth serum, as in “Examination Day” at the Twilight Zone?

  4. Steve H. says:

    They’re holding out for the Cadillac.

  5. Laura (southernxyl) says:

    And this is the kind of thing that the concept of “our failing public schools” rests on.

  6. Why would I ever want a letter from the Pres? Isn’t this America? Pay cash.

    If I were a 12th grader and the gov’t offered me $100 to take a test, I’d go for it (nowadays I charge much more that $100 for a day of my time, but in HS it would be worth it…)

  7. Wacky Hermit says:

    When I got my [equivalent of Boy Scout Eagle Award] I got a letter from the president. Even though I liked the president, it didn’t mean a whole lot. It was a form letter that they sent to everyone across the nation who had done what I did. What would have meant something was what my grandpa had, a picture of him shaking hands with the president. THAT would have been cool.

  8. Richard Brandshaft says:

    I, as a reasonably responsible adult, would have trouble putting a lot of effort into a test where I would never know my score and how I did meant nothing to me. Is it better to decline to take the test than to take it and only put in a mild effort?

  9. Pouncer says:

    I agree with Dan G.


    Pay for performance! Both to the student and his teacher.

    Consider the possibility if a teacher had the same kids for longer stretches, say, three years at a pop. Then high-stakes, (Pay for performance) tests. Pay enough to the best-test-takers, and they could go on to the next level. Poor performers fall out of the system.

    Sort of like coaches and football players …