High-school seniors fail to improve on national report card
by Laura Edghill
Posted 4/28/16, 12:25 pm
Nationwide testing results released this week show largely stagnant achievement rates and some declines for high-school seniors in 2015 compared to two years earlier.
The results, termed the “Nation’s Report Card,” come from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is given biennially to a carefully selected sampling of more than 30,000 students around the country. This NAEP report contains math and reading scores for the nation’s seniors.
“These numbers are not going the way we want,” said William Bushaw, executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees NAEP policy, in an interview with The Washington Post. “We have to redouble our efforts to prepare our students.”
The results appear to reflect, however, a favorable national trend of decreasing dropout and rising graduation rates.
“The dropout rate for all students has improved,” said Peggy Carr, the acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the NAEP, in an interview with Education Week. “That means we have students who normally would not be there who are there.”
Carr went on to explain that with more students persevering who might have dropped out in prior years, the NAEP results reflect more lower-performing students choosing to remain in school rather than give up.
The results also appear to reflect a widening gap between students in poverty and middle- to upper-income students. Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis concluded in a 2011 study, “Family income is now nearly as strong as parental education in predicting children’s achievement.”
And while the NAEP data show how students performed at a prescribed point in their educational experience, it cannot quantify the myriad competing influences in schools that affect test results. In recent years, 42 states have completely redesigned curriculum requirements as they adopted Common Core standards. Numerous states have also begun tying test scores to teacher evaluations. In just the last two years, states such as Michigan have also wholly replaced their own statewide standardized testing regimens, all of which force countless adjustments at the classroom level.
Education Secretary John B. King Jr. said schools have undergone some of the most significant changes in decades as teachers retooled their classroom practices to adapt to new and higher standards.
“We know the results of those changes will not be seen overnight, so we need to be patient—but not passive—in continuing to pursue the goal of preparing all students for success after high school,” King said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Laura is a freelance writer, church communications director, and public school board member living in Clinton Township, Mich., with her engineer husband and three sons. She is a graduate of the WORLD Journalism Institute's mid-career course. Follow Laura on Twitter @LTEdghill.