Just 37% of U.S. High School Seniors Prepared for College Math and Reading, Test Shows

Leslie Brody, Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2016

Only 37% of American 12th-graders were academically prepared for college math and reading in 2015, a slight dip from two years earlier, according to test scores released Wednesday.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” said that share was down from an estimated 39% in math and 38% in reading in 2013.

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At the time of the assessment, 42% of the test-takers said they had been accepted into a four-year college. The test is taken by a representative sample of seniors nationwide.

The biggest problems came at the bottom, with growth in the share of students deemed “below basic” in their abilities. In math, 38% of students were in that group in 2015, compared with 35% two years earlier. In reading, 28% of students were “below basic,” compared with 25%.

Peggy Carr, acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which conducts the test, said officials couldn’t tie changes in scores to any particular education policies but demographic shifts may play a role. The dropout rate has improved for every racial and ethnic group, she said, so some struggling students who wouldn’t have taken the test in the past did so last year.

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In reading, 49% of Asian students performed at or above proficiency last year. So did 46% of white students, 25% of Hispanic students and 17% of black students.

In math, the average score of 152 out of 300 points was one point lower than in 2013. A significant drop in math scores was seen among students whose parents didn’t finish high school.

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In math, 47% of Asian students performed at or above proficiency. So did 32% of white students, 12% of Hispanic students and 7% of black students.

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