State Achievement Score Trends Through 2008-09, Part 5: Progress Lags in High School, Especially for Advanced Achievers

 

Part 5: CEP test data reportOn 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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