Press Release

NAEP 12th-Grade Math, Reading Scores Not Improving

For Release: 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Janet Bass

Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on the National Assessment of Educational Progress report of 12th-graders' math and reading scores:

"The NAEP results for 12th-grade students are nothing to write home about, but it's important to understand the 'whys,' not just the 'whats,' if we want a path to improvement. The results suggest that the dominant reform strategies of the last two decades—test and sanction—need to change. We must transition to a support-and-improve paradigm where we prepare all kids well for life, citizenship, college and career. The Common Core State Standards, if implemented properly, are an important strategy in this regard, as they will help students apply knowledge, problem solve and think analytically—skills that are essential for post-high-school lives. While we all applaud the recent increase in high school graduation rates, these sobering NAEP data are a reminder that we can't shortcut the transition to a more robust, rigorous and supported teaching and learning system.

"A great example of this is the Common Core-infused system of the New York Performance Standards Consortium. The dropout rate for the 39 schools is less than half the rate for other New York City schools, and most of its graduates attend competitive colleges, including nearly all of the schools' African-American and Latino students.

"Rather than continuing with the status quo of test-and-sanction accountability, states and school districts must act now to end the test-based, rote-memorization system that is failing our students, and shift to a system like the NY Performance Standards Consortium schools that includes well-resourced classrooms, project-based learning and assessments that are used primarily to inform instruction.

"Connecticut stands out as one of the few states that has managed to narrow racial achievement gaps and improve math and reading performance over the past four years, and have a higher percentage of students reaching reading proficiency than the other states taking the test."

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.