Test Scores

In a 4/29/09 WSJ article, Robert Tomsho summarizes results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a.k.a. the “Nation’s Report Card”. 9 and 13 year students have made some progress in the past 40 years, but the scores of 17 year old students have shown no change in math and reading proficiency.

“The new report comes as colleges and employers are complaining that too many students earn diplomas without learning the skills needed for college or the workplace.”

How have younger students fared since the implementation of the federal government’s No Child Left Behind policy? 9 year olds showed a 6% improvement in reading, but younger students showed only a 1 – 2% gain.

The disturbing trend is that students gain increased proficiency in math and reading only to see those gains evaporate as they near the end of their secondary education. “Achievement gaps between white and minority students have declined drastically” but “whites still outscore black and Hispanic students” by about 10%.

It is surprising to me how many people working a cash register in retail establishments have difficulty making change. Workers with high school diplomas can not add and subtract simple fractions, a big disadvantage when doing basic carpentry. A student writing a master’s thesis can not write at a college freshman level.

Perhaps this is why some employees on Wall Street get multi-million dollar bonuses. They can read and write.

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