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NAEP report shows most states haven't improved math and reading scores

THURSDAY, MAY 08, 2014 10:18 AM

The education world has been wrapped up in assessments since April, as students take Common Core State Standards-aligned tests. Additionally, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is known as the Nation's Report Card, released data from the 2013 test on how U.S. high school seniors are faring in math and reading compared to years past. While exams associated with the Common Core wait to be graded, the NAEP report may give some precursory insight into the state of American education.

Math and reading remain stagnant
According to the NAEP report, average scores in both math and reading have remained the same since the last assessment, which took place in 2009. However, math scores have improved since the initial test in 2005. Reading scores, on the other hand, have decreased since the first assessment in 1992. 

The NAEP test measured the aptitude of high schoolers who are in their senior year, or 12th grade. Some analysts take this as a sign of caution. Many students at this age are ready to graduate. They already know which college they're going to and start to slip in their educational performance, thinking it's no longer important to their future. 

"We all remember exactly how engaged your 17-year-old high school senior is," Frederick Hess, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told The Washington Post.

Hess emphasized that the country shouldn't take the report results too seriously, given that only seniors, many of whom aren't motivated at the end of their high school career, take the assessments. 

Proficiency levels
The report summarizes the varying levels at which students perform - advanced is the highest, but proficient is also a good score. The results showed that 26 percent of American students are proficient in math while 38 percent are proficient in reading. Both percentages are lower than in years past. 

Some states make gains
While a majority of states performed at a stagnant level, some outshone the rest. Both Arkansas and Connecticut showed improvement in math and reading. Connecticut took the lead, scoring four points higher in math and six points higher in reading than in 2009. Arkansas was a close second, having earned four more points in math and five more points in reading than in the 2009 assessments. Arkansas and Connecticut have both adopted the Common Core State Standards. 

Many wonder how other states using the Standards will rank when standardized test results debut, especially in comparison to these NAEP results. According to Education Week, the NAEP assessments actually align closely with the Common Core. However, until results from recent preliminary tests come in, people will be left to speculate.