The Nation’s Report Card

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)  released its report about the 2015 testing.  NAEP selects a cross-section of schools nationwide to participate in the assessment.  Students in grades 4, 8 and 12 participate.  Public and private schools are represented in the sample. “In an average state, 2,500 students in approximately 100 public schools are assessed per grade, for each subject assessed. The selection process for schools uses stratified random sampling within categories of schools with similar characteristics. . . A national sample of nonpublic (private) schools is also selected for grades 4, 8, and 12. This sample is designed to produce national and regional estimates of student performance for private schools.” NAEP encourages schools to participate at both state and national levels. However, “. . . even if a state decides not to participate at the state level, schools in that state identified for the national sample will still be asked to participate.”

Testing may include eight subjects across the three grade levels: civics, economics, geography, math, reading, science, US history, and writing.  Last year’s testing results centered on math and reading.  The NAEP website reports the following results for math in grades 4 and 8.  NAEP(

“The 2015 average scores were 1 and 2 points lower in grades 4 and 8, respectively, than the average scores in 2013.” The scores in reading reflect similar results. “The 2015 average score was not significantly different at grade 4 and was 2 points lower at grade 8 compared to 2013.”

Viewed from a different perspective, that of proficiency, the results are similarly disappointing, as indicated in the table below:

Grade         4                      8                12

Math            40%                33%          25%

Reading       36%                 34%         37%

So, about only one-quarter of graduating seniors are mathematically capable, and slightly more than one-third are proficiently literate.  Why? Despite the initiatives of “No Child Left Behind” and “Common Core,” American students continue to flounder academically.

The solution to the problem needs to start early. Teachers cannot assume that students at any grade level are coming into school prepared to learn. If they establish behavioral expectations and reinforce  them  fairly and  consistently with specific classroom rules, they can less time with discipline and more time on instruction, which benefits both teacher and student.  Teachers can add significant time to classroom instruction if they don’t engage a student’s challenging behavior without adding even one day to the school calendar.  Effective classroom management is essential, so learning can take place!



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