Reading and math scores for 12th graders rose slightly from 2005 to 2009, according to the Nation’s Report Card. However, average reading scores have declined since 1992. Math can be compared only to 2005, which was a very bad year for 12th-grade achievement.
The long-term trend is grim, writes Chad Aldeman on The Quick and the Ed. “But, given that we’ve focused most of our educational resources and accountability systems on K-8 schools, results should not surprise us.” Since 1973, fourth and eighth graders are doing better in reading and math but the gains dissipate by the end of high school.
A 10-15 point gain on NAEP is equivalent to one full grade level, so our nation’s fourth-graders are scoring about two grade levels higher than they did in 1973. For eighth-graders, the progress is about one full grade level. But for 17 year-olds, the progress is only a few months.
In reading, 74 percent of students scored at or above basic, 38 percent at or above proficient and 5 percent advanced.
In math, 64 percent were at or above basic, 26 at or above proficient and 3 percent advanced
Remember that the worst students have dropped out by 12th grade. Many states also exclude large numbers of disabled students and students who aren’t fluent in English, reports Ed Week.
Sixty percent of students taking the test plan to earn a college degree (52 percent want a four-year degree) and another 26 percent plan to go to professional or graduate school. Students’ aspirations exceed their skills.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan acknowledged that “high school seniors’ achievement in reading and math isn’t rising fast enough to prepare them to succeed in college and careers,” but said the administration remain committed to making the U.S. first in the world in college graduates by 2020. Valerie Strauss of Answer Sheet is dubious.
Racial/ethnic achievement gaps haven’t changed much. Girls outscore boys by 12 points in reading; boys were 3 points higher in math.