High School Seniors Scored Lower in Math, Stagnant in Reading Compared to 2013, National Study Finds

About twice as many students at Catholic schools scored proficient in math and reading compared to their public school peers,

Lower-achieving students fared worse than in 2013, according to the results

MacIver News Service | April 29, 2016

[Washington, D.C…] High school seniors across the country are scoring worse at math and not improving at reading, according to new results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the “Nation’s Report Card.”

Twelfth-grade students scored an average score of 152 out of 300 in mathematics, compared to 153 in 2013. The average reading score in 2015 was 287 out of 500, down from 288 in 2013, though not significantly different.

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The dataset distinguished between students at public schools compared to students at Catholic schools. While only 23 percent of public school students scored at or above proficient in math, 48 percent of Catholic school students scored at or above proficient. In reading, 36 percent of public school students scored at or above proficient, with 63 percent of Catholic school students faring the same.

Though no other information was released on whether schools participated in choice or voucher programs, the information seems to echo March 2016 test results that showed Wisconsin students in choice programs outperformed their peers in public schools in almost every category.

For lower-achieving students at the 10th and 25th percentiles, scores continued to decline in both subjects. Higher-achieving students at the 75th and 90th percentiles showed no significant change.

Nationally, no significant score change existed for any racial or ethnic group in either subject, though a troubling achievement gap existed across racial and ethnic boundaries. While 32 percent of white students were proficient in math in 2015, only 7 percent of black students achieved the same level of proficiency.

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The percentage of 12th graders at or above a proficient level of reading is down from 40 percent in 1992, the first year the test was administered, to 37 percent in 2015. The test results also revealed score declines in reading for public school students as well as schools in the southern region of the country.

The new dataset draws from the test results of 31,900 high school seniors who took the exam in 2015.

Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction did not immediately comment on the results, though Superintendent Tony Evers released a statement on Wisconsin’s graduation rate, which is higher than the national average, a day after the NAEP’s data release.