The National Center for Education Statistics released the results of its National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for 2015 on Wednesday, a nationwide test taken by a representative sample of U.S. high school seniors.
According to the “Nation’s Report Card“, only 37 percent of 12th graders are academically prepared for college-level math and reading, down slightly from 2013.
The results of the test place students into one of four categories: “below basic”, “basic”, “proficient”, and “advanced”.
Specifically, 38 percent scored below basic in math, 28 percent did so for reading.
Students who score between basic and proficient are considered “college and career ready”, according Andrew Ho, NEAP board member and standardized test expert at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
Perhaps more disturbingly, the gap between high and low achieving students is widening.
“The students at the top of the distribution are going up and the students at the bottom of the distribution are going down,” said Peggy Carr, acting commissioner of the Center. “In math the decline is real. Students at the lower end are getting worse.”
The decline may also be real in reading proficiency, as the average score in that category has dropped “significantly” since 1992.
Despite the bad performance, 42 percent of high school seniors who took the test said they had already been accepted at a four-year college or university, and high school graduation rates have continued to rise.
“Graduation [from high school] is just a lower standard than college readiness,” said Ho, of the NAEP board. “If you get right down to it, the reading and math required by NAEP, the ACT, the SAT, colleges and careers is much greater than what high schools are saying is sufficient.”
A total of 18,700 students took the NAEP reading test, while 13,200 completed the math test.
[Wall Street Journal] [NPR] [Photo courtesy Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images]