New Test Results Reveal A “Lost Decade” For Academic Progress In Public Schools

The biannual report card from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) has been released. The results indicate a lost decade for academic progress in America’s public schools, with little progress measured in eighth-grade reading and zero improvements for reading in fourth-grade or for mathematics in eighth-grade.

Despite the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars pumped into the education programs at state and federal levels per annum, the return on developing America’s intelligent, future leaders of tomorrow is failing.

“This has been education’s lost decade,” Michael Petrilli, president of the reform-oriented Thomas B. Fordham Institute, told The 74 Million.

NAEP was administered in 1Q2017 to a nationally representative sample of 149,400 fourth-graders and 144,900 eighth-graders. Fourth-grade scores in 2017 were unchanged in math and declined in reading, though the decline was not determined to be significant. On the other hand, eighth-graders made marginal progress in both subjects, though reading was much stronger than math.

The 74 Million said in the modern era of academic standards and school accountability over the last two decades, the flat trajectory in education progress for public school youth have left education reformers baffled.

“In some ways, the flat trajectory provides relief for educators after the especially bitter NAEP news in 2015, when scores dropped for three out of four age/subject groupings. The development came as states were still rolling out testing regimes aligned with the Common Core, and the new standards were widely (and controversially) blamed for bringing down student performance.


Although scores for American students have gone through periods of sizable and consistent growth — most recently at the dawn of the modern era of academic standards and school accountability in the late 1990s and early 2000s — results over the past 10 years have left education reformers at a loss.”

Petrilli said, “the one-point [increase] in eighth-grade reading? I’m not going to start a party for that one. We’ve been basically flat since the late 2000s. There was a time when we were making some big progress nationally, and we’re not seeing that now. The results are disappointing.”


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