So some good educational news on this Fourth of July.
Long-time readers will know that one thing which makes me very Mad is the claim that U.S. test scores have stagnated. Amazingly, The Washington Post looks at the new set of NAEP data and points out that, in fact, test scores are rising (boldface mine):
The nation’s 9-year-olds and 13-year-olds are posting better scores in math and reading tests than their counterparts did 40 years ago, and the achievement gap between white students and those of color still persists but is narrowing, according to new federal government data released Thursday.
The scores, collected regularly since the 1970s from federal tests administered to public and private school students age 9, 13, and 17, paint a picture of steady student achievement that contradicts the popular notion that U.S. educational progress has stalled.
“When you break out the data over the long term and ask who is improving, the answer is . . . everyone,” said Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, a nonprofit organization that works to close the achievement gap between poor and privileged children. “And the good news, given where they started, is that black and Latino children have racked up some of the biggest gains of all.”
The data, part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress long-term trend study, come from tests given every four years in math and reading. The most recent results, from tests 50,000 students took in 2012, show that 9-year-olds and 13-year-olds did better in both math and reading than students who took the first reading test in 1971 and the first math test in 1973.
It’s also worth noting that once you break down scores by demographic group, 17 year-olds have also shown increases, dramatically so among African-Americans and Hispanics.
So, yes, there are problems, including the One That Shall Not Be Named–the Alabama–Massachusetts gap. But remember this: any time you hear someone preface a statement about education by claiming that scores are stagnant, you can save yourself some trouble and ignore everything else that follows.