Nine- and 13-year-olds are doing better in reading and math since the early 1970s, according to the new Nation’s Report Card analysis of long-term trends by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Seventeen-year-olds are doing about the same.
The racial achievement gap has narrowed since the ’70s, but there’s been little progress from 2004 to 2008. Nine-year-old boys narrowed the reaidng gap with girls.
What counts is what kids know when they finish high school and go into the world, writes Cato’s Andrew Coulson. The failure to show progress for 17-year-olds represents a “productivity collapse unparalleled in any other sector of the economy.”
At the end of high school, students perform no better today than they did nearly 40 years ago, and yet we spend more than twice as much per pupil in real, inflation-adjusted terms.
Students are taking more challenging math courses than they did a generation ago. You’d think that would pay off in math scores, but it hasn’t yet made a difference at the high school level.
Update: The lowest-achieving students have improved more than the highest achievers in the last four years, narrowing the gap, points out USA Today.