Declining scores spark debate about school policies and academic standards.
Scores for students who took the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) testing, know as the Nation’s Report Card, declined for the first time since the federal government began the testing in the early 1990’s, says and article on washingtonpost.com.
Results just released show a decline in national mathematics scores for fourth- and eight-graders to whom the tests were administered, and reading performance also fell for the eighth-graders, while remaining the same for the fourth-grade students.
As in the past, the testing revealed a large gap between white and minority students, and between affluent and poorer children as well. The results indicate the disadvantaged students in the country are not gaining any ground in the nation’s school systems.
The news was disappointing because federal laws passed to raise the levels of scoring for minority students have not seemed to impact the numbers despite being in force for more than ten years .
President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, said in a statement, “Not only is there plenty of anecdotal evidence that our kids have suffered, these latest NAEP scores again show that the strategy of testing and sanctioning, coupled with austerity, does not work,”
She added that the decline in scores indicates the focus on standardized testing for evaluating schools and teachers is failing, and should dictate a change in the course of evaluations. She pointed out that the Obama administration has acknowledged that students are spending too much time on standardized testing that has proven to be of little value.
Schools have been dealing with a number of situations over the past several years that are making the problem worsen. An increasing number of low-income families are sending their children to schools when they are just learning to speak English. Add to that seemingly unending refinements of academic standards and sweeping policy changes highlight the difficulties some systems face.