State Achievement Score Trends Through 2008-09, Part 5: Progress Lags in High School, Especially for Advanced Achievers
On the coattails of our recent “high flyers” study, this Center on Education Policy report (part five in a series examining state-test data) raises concern about the achievement levels of our nation’s high-performing students—specifically our high schoolers. And, while the data aren’t scathing, they do merit some raised eyebrows: Examining state-test data from forty states and D.C. between 2002 and 2009, CEP finds that 38 percent of the states investigated saw declines in the number of high school students hitting their “advanced” achievement targets in reading, compared to just 14 and 12 percent of states seeing declines at the fourth- and eighth-grade levels, respectively. (For math, there’s a 30 percentage-point differential between the K-8 and secondary levels.) To be fair, 57 percent of states saw gains in their percentages of advanced high schoolers during these years. Breaking the data up by subgroup, the news is equally mixed: While 88 percent of states saw the mean ELA test score of African Americans rise between 2002 and 2009, only 55 percent of states saw that same bump at the advanced level. Thirty-nine percent of states marked a decline in the percentage of Latino students at the advanced level in ELA (with just over half of all states marking gains at the advanced level for this group). But note: the methods of CEP’s data analysis are a bit off point. Among other flaws, examining state averages and reporting the percentage of states that fit X or Y bill fails to account for state size, among other things. Though CEP is right to analyze and report the performance of high achievers, we need more rigorous analysis to ascertain how well we’re serving this population. (And our own study only nicks the tip of the iceberg.)
Nancy Kober and Jennifer McMurrer, “State Achievement Score Trends Through 2008-09, Part 5: Progress Lags in High School, Especially for Advanced Achievers,” (Washington, D.C.: Center for Education Policy, October 2011).
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