Despite the Massive Failure of U.S. Education, Once Again Student Performance Is Increasing

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 AlabamaMassachusetts 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.

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6 Responses to Despite the Massive Failure of U.S. Education, Once Again Student Performance Is Increasing

  1. Bardiac says:

    I blame the teachers!

  2. Amber says:

    I can add the anecdata that my parents were mostly useless to help with our homework after 8th grade. Pops graduated highschool in 78, mom got her GED in 87 and did community college after that. My sister and I helped her learn algebra. We were learning more and required to do more work in both math and reading/English.

  3. Min says:

    The lies about US education must stop. They must be exposed as lies as long and as often as it takes.

  4. And yet, as a teacher of high school juniors and seniors, what I see is that they understand much less. Somehow, the system has figured out how to get higher scores, while teaching them less.

    It seems we are getting everyone to be able to pass an increasingly meaningless test.

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