I didn’t get a chance last week to comment on NAEP 12th grade reading and math scores, which are up since 2005 but still down since 1992. A couple of points worth noting, though:
The increase in 12th grade NAEP scores from 2005 to 2009 reflects the reversal of a pretty steady downward trend in NAEP scores since 1992. It's become standard in education circles to dismiss the significant gains in 4th grade NAEP scores over the past decade by noting that those gains have not translated into 12th grade NAEP score gains—but that analysis ignores the fact that the 12th grade cohorts that failed to make NAEP gains are different students than the 4th grade cohorts who did. With the 2009 12th grade NAEP, we are starting to see results for students from the 4th grade cohorts that made gains on NAEP earlier this decade—that's when we'll see whether or not those 4th grade gains actually transferred to high school. Why is the 12th grade NAEP administered so darn infrequently? The last 12th grade NAEP was in 2005, the one before that 2002. 4th and 8th grade NAEPs, by contrast, are administered annually. That seems a little odd, particularly since we probably do care a little bit more how kids do at the end of their schooling—and given the Obama administration's emphasis on "college and career readiness." Of course, administering the 12th grade NAEP annually would cost more, but why not alternate years between the 8th and 12th grade NAEP?
The opinions expressed in Sara Mead’s Policy Notebook are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.