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.
Michael Alison Chandler
April 28, 2009; 1:47 PM ET
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