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Front Page » March 15, 2007 » Local News » U.S. Education Department Report Evaluates Performance Of...
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U.S. Education Department Report Evaluates Performance Of High School Students on National Reading, Mathematics Assessments

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The United States Department of Education recently released a national report card evaluating the performance of high school seniors on reading and mathematics assessments.

In 2005, a representative sample of more than 21,000 seniors from 900 high schools across the U.S. was assessed in reading and mathematics. The agency compiled the 2005 scores and reading assessment data from 1992, 1994, 1998 and 2002.

On average, graduates are taking more challenging courses and earning higher grades during high school years, indicated the education department. But 12th graders failed to produce gains on the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress.

The nation's report cards on 12th grade reading and mathematics present a mixed picture of educational achievement for high schoolers in the U.S., pointed out the federal agency.

On one hand, a review of the high school transcripts of 2005 graduates indicates that 68 percent completed at least a standard curriculum, up from 59 percent in 2000, and that the overall grade point average was about one-third of a letter grade higher than in 1990.

However, the average 12th-grade reading score was the lowest since 1992, but not significantly different from 2002. In mathematics, which saw the introduction of a new assessment in 2005 that is not comparable to previous versions, less than one-quarter or 23 percent scored at or higher than the proficient level.

"On the surface, these results provide little comfort and seem to confirm the general concern about the performance of America's high school students," said Darvin Winick, chairman of the national assessment governing board setting NAEP policy. "The findings also suggest that we need to know much more about the level of rigor associated with the courses that high school students are taking."

Overall, the percentage of 12th grade students performing at or higher than the basic level in reading has fallen from 80 percent to 73 percent since 1992. The percentage performing at or higher than proficient declined from 40 percent to 35 percent.

In 2005, 61 percent of high school seniors performed at or higher than the basic level in math. Only 23 percent performed at or higher than proficient.

Achievement differences also persist among racial/ethnic student groups.

From 1992-2005, the Hispanic student population doubled, while reading scores showed no significant change. In contrast, average scores for white and black students have dropped significantly since 1992.

In math, the average score for white students in 2005 was 31 points higher than for black students and 24 points higher than for Hispanic students.

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