National Assessment of Educational Progress Scores Rise

Reading scores for the nation’s 12th-grade students have increased since they dropped to a historic low in 2005. Average math scores also rose.

Experts said the increases, after years of dismal achievement reports, were surprising because every year the nation’s schools are educating more black and Hispanic students, who on average score lower than whites and Asians. Researchers presume that language barriers pull down scores for Hispanics.

On the 500-point scale used in the reading assessment, the average 12th grader scored 288 on the 2009 test, up from 286 in 2005. About 38 percent of 12th graders scored at or above the test’s proficiency level.

The latest results show that Asians overtook whites as the nation’s best readers at the 12th-grade level from 2005 to 2009. The average Asian 12th grader scored 298 in 2009, compared to 287 four years earlier. The average white student scored 296 in 2009, up from 293 in 2005.

The average Hispanic 12th grader scored 274 in 2009, a two point rise from 2005. Black 12th graders, on average, scored 269 in 2009, up from 267 in 2005.

On the math assessment, which is scored on a 300-point scale, the average 12th grader scored 153 in 2009, up from 150 in 2005.

While the increases are small, they are still increases.  Teachers need to get credit for these increases.  Politicians, the media and the business community complain when scores go down.  And they talk about schools needing to be globally competitive.  Yet at the first signs of state budget shortfalls, education goes to the top of the list for cuts.