12th-grade scores up slightly

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.

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  1. Once again, student achievement has remained flat or decreased over the last 30 years, and despite spending almost 4 times the amount of money (adjusted for inflation) since the mid 1960’s, there has been little or no gain in actual student progress.

    The fact that 26 percent of students are below basic levels in reading, and 36 percent are below basic levels in math, we should not be surprised at this (The United States is the only nation on earth (1st world) where students actually lose education ground the longer they are in school).

    Another disturbing trend is that 86 percent of students say they will graduate with a degree (associates, bachelor’s, masters, professional), but the reality is for many of these students (who aren’t college ready at all), they will probably wind up in remedial courses (which no credit towards a degree is awarded) and get frustrated and eventually drop out.

    One third (33 percent) of freshmen admitted to college directly from high school need at least one (or more) remedial courses, usually in english and math. In addition, if you look at six year graduation rates for colleges in the US, you’ll find that roughly 2/5ths of the students who start never finish (and if a student needs more than three remedial courses, they’ll probably never finish college in their lifetime).

    The fact we don’t include special education students on IEP’s or ESL/ELL/LEP students is good news, for if we did, the numbers would look a lot worse than what is currently posted.

    In closing, unless a student has a solid knowledge of mathematics (through at least algebra II/trig), english (through composition and literature), and science (two lab courses at least), a student will have a very difficult time in the world of higher education.

  2. Also, if you want to see why our students do so badly at math in the US, visit this URL about Everyday Math (which is being taught to at least 3 million students in the US):


    It’s pathetic that this nonsense is even allowed to be taught anywhere in the US

  3. Success in 12th grade is determined largely by the solid foundation that is established all the way back to kindergarten. I wonder if the loss of proficiency according to the NAEP is due to methods that only produce temporary results.

    Elementary school can easily get away with student-centric methods that only provide a general overview of a few concepts. High school, on the other hand, requires more nose-to-the-paper work due to the complexity and size of of the curriculum. Unfortunately, students enter high school without even the most basic understanding of what they need to do to succeed.

  4. I just can’t take NAEP results seriously, particular in reading.