NAEP Scores Stagnant for High School Students

According to results released today, performance was up for middle and elementary school students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test that charts progress across state lines and over time.

Math scores for 9- and 13-year olds have steadily risen over the past decade on what's known as the Nation's Report Card, which has been assessing a sample of students at ages 9,13 and 17 every few years since the early 1970s.

There's one glaring exception to the good news: 17-year olds. Results for the oldest group are stuck in the same rut they were in 30 years ago.

Many educators attribute the growth in the younger students' scores to the ratcheting up of standards that has characterized education reform of late.

David P. Driscoll, a member of the director of the National Assessment Governing Board, summed up two perspectives on what's happening with the older set:

"An optimist would say, 'Things are heading in the right direction....We just need to wait until these 9-year olds become 17-year olds and they will bring increased achievement.'"

On the other hand:

"A pessimist would say, 'We have been waiting a long time...a couple of decades for some significant improvement,'" he said.

A pessimist might want to look beyond the US to other countries that are performing better, "where students have longer school days, longer school years, and where the depth in mathematics and the complexity in grading is greater and high school students are challenged more."

Driscoll pointed out one promising trend. Teens who are taking higher level classes in high school tend to perform better on the tests. As more students enroll in college-level classes, the scores could reflect that.

By Michael Alison Chandler  |  April 28, 2009; 1:47 PM ET
Previous: Career Day at Fairfax High | Next: Encouraging Native American Girls in Science And Math


Has the lack of progress in 17 year olds anything to do with the attitude: "school ain't cool"? Isn't there a need for an attitude and subsequent behavioral adjustment on the part of these students? Is the lack of progress a reflection of a cultural value regarding education and parental emphasis? Aren't there already role models for educational success emphasizing: ambition, persistence, and deferred gratification? Community support of families who want their children to succeed academically needs to change its attitudes through community cohesiveness, community adoption of other successful attitudes and behaviors, respect for authority. Isn't one definition of insanity doing something over and over the same way and expecting a different outcome? Isn't it time of change? There is already a pathway before us for success in education, let us adopt and adapt successful role models, it is the best step forward.

Posted by: RiHo08 | May 1, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I could not agree with RiHo08 more. Look around the engineering schools of your top universities, and I suspect you see less and less products of American public school systems populating the graduate schools. President Obama recently said he wanted 'more smart people going into engineering and computer design vs. the finance sector' since I guess all those 'smart people' caused our financial problems (to which I somewhat agree). Our culture must value those professions and scholastic pursuits so as to encourage more people to pursue them, and of course their must be an incentive to prosper in those professions, too.

Posted by: pdfordiii | May 3, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company