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Stagnant NAEP Scores Raise Concerns for High School Seniors

May 7, 2014 - 6:00pm

Americas high school seniors arent fully equipped to hit the ground running in a competitive global economy, according to the Nations Report Card released Wednesday which showed no improvement in reading and mathematics scores over the last four years.

Federal education officials examined over 92,000 test results from exams administered between January and March 2013 to gather National Assessment of Educational Progresss Nations Report Card.

The results showed only 38 percent of the countrys high school seniors were reading at or above the proficient level and even less -- 26 percent -- scored at or above proficient in mathematics.

David Driscoll, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the content and operation of NAEP, says the findings are particularly troubling for further student success.

"Achievement at this very critical point in a student's life must be improved to ensure success after high school, he said.

More troubling for Florida was the state breakdown, which showed Floridas high school seniors falling well below the national public average for mathematics proficiency. Only 19 percent of Floridas high school seniors scored at or above proficient in mathematics. When it came to reading, Florida matched the national average with 36 percent performing at or above proficient in the NAEP test.

Floridas achievement gap continued to remain below the national average, but the results were unchanged from the 2009 NAEP test.

Critics of standardized testing contend that testing itself is part of the reason achievement is lacking.

How much more evidence do federal and state policymakers need that driving schooling through standardized exams does not increase educational quality? asked FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer. It is time to abandon failed test-and-punish policies and adopt assessments that have been shown to improve teaching and learning.

The test results could strengthen the resolve of Common Core supporters across the country, who say theres a real need for higher standards in order to help students perform better.

In Florida, the standards have been rebranded as the Florida Standards and are set to be fully implemented in schools by the 2014-2015 school year. Proponents of the standards believe a more analytical curriculum will yield higher results -- and could ultimately raise stagnant scores.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said there is a great need for focusing on increasing the rigor of high schools across the country.

"We project that our nation's public schools will become majority-minority this fall -- making it even more urgent to put renewed attention into the academic rigor and equity of course offerings and into efforts to redesign high schools, Duncan wrote in a statement. We must reject educational stagnation in our high schools, and as [a] nation, we must do better for all students, especially for African-American and Latino students."

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.

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