Math, reading level test scores: Has Common Core made any difference?

Nov 2, 2019 by

Reading scores stagnated. Math scores jumped compared with the early ’90s, but haven’t gone up in a decade. What’s happening to America’s students?

American students are struggling with reading. And the country’s education system hasn’t found a way to make it better.

In fact, fourth and eighth grade reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress essentially haven’t budged in 10 years. That’s causing some alarm, considering the number of reforms aimed at American schools over the past decade: stronger academic standards, more tests, stricter teacher evaluations and laws that discourage schools from promoting third graders if they can’t read proficiently, to name a few.

“Reading has just been more or less plateauing, stagnating,” said Peggy Carr, a leader of the assessments division for the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the NAEP to a representative sample of students across the country every two years.

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How bad are the new reading scores?

Results of the 2019 NAEP, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, showed elementary and middle school students scored worse in reading than they did two years ago.

Specifically, 35% of fourth graders were proficient in reading in 2019, slightly down from 37% in 2017 and barely up from 33% of such students considered proficient a decade ago, in 2009.

About 34% of eighth graders were proficient in reading this year, a drop from 36% in 2017 and only a tiny bit better than 32% in 2009.

To be clear, the national exams set a high bar for proficiency – higher than most state achievement tests. But they’re the only consistent measure of how students nationwide are doing in core subjects over time. A sample of about 600,000 public and private school students in fourth and eighth grade took the reading and math exams in 2019. Their results were released Wednesday.

Source: Math, reading level test scores: Has Common Core made any difference?

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