The news from the National Assessment of Educational Progress is not good. Even though high school seniors are more likely to graduate and are more likely to go to college, they are not prepared to do college work. The Nation’s Report Card shows too many students getting a failing grade. By implication, the nation, the academic establishment and the culture are failing too. Nevertheless,, they give the children passing grades and hand the problem off to others.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Only 37% of American 12th-graders were academically prepared for college math and reading in 2015, a slight dip from two years earlier, according to test scores released Wednesday.
42% of these students will enter college. Many are unprepared and will require remedial work. In most cases, it will not be enough.
One adds that the tests were administered to children in private and public schools. You can imagine what the score would have been if only public school students had been tested.
The Journal continues:
Educators and policy makers have long lamented that many seniors get diplomas even though they aren’t ready for college, careers or the military. Those who go to college often burn through financial aid or build debt while taking remedial classes that don’t earn credits toward a degree.
Bill Bushaw, executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the test, said the board was pleased that high school graduation rates were rising, but disappointed in the lack of progress in boosting students’ skills and knowledge.
“These numbers aren’t going the way we want,” he said. “We just have to redouble our efforts to prepare our students to close opportunity gaps.”
As has happened in the nation’s economic life, the best did better and the worst did worst. Students at the bottom of the socioeconomical ladder dragged down the scores for everyone.
The biggest problems came at the bottom, with growth in the share of students deemed “below basic” in their abilities. In math, 38% of students were in that group in 2015, compared with 35% two years earlier. In reading, 28% of students were “below basic,” compared with 25%.
Strange to say, part of the problem seems to be that there are fewer dropouts. If underachieving students do not drop out when they are 16 they reduce the percentages.
We are not surprised to see Asian students leading the pack in these tests:
In reading, 49% of Asian students performed at or above proficiency last year. So did 46% of white students, 25% of Hispanic students and 17% of black students.
In math, the average score of 152 out of 300 points was one point lower than in 2013. A significant drop in math scores was seen among students whose parents didn’t finish high school.
“In math, the decline is real,” Ms. Carr said. “Students at the lower end are getting worse.”
English-language learners fared better than previously, she said, mostly because of gains among Asian students.
In math, 47% of Asian students performed at or above proficiency. So did 32% of white students, 12% of Hispanic students and 7% of black students.
Of course, if you do not know what the problem is you are very unlikely to fix it. While the Age of Obama might have provided some pride to minority students, clearly this did not have any influence on their test scores. If the message of the Obama presidency was that the president was going to take care of them and that they did not need to work very hard, then this did not do anyone any good.
And one is intrigued by the correlation between the evident inequality in these test scores and the increasing economic inequality gap.
What caused the problem in minority communities? Obviously, broken homes and unstable families contributed mightily to it. But we must also add that the Asian students who did so much better than everyone else were more likely to have Tiger Moms. One suspects that they also had more stable communities.
We know that Asian culture is routinely derided because it supposedly produces more mental illness and suicide. And, these Asian children are such grinds that they are missing out on all the fun. Yet, the Tiger Moms do shield their children from the pathogens that are freely floating through American culture. It ought to give us pause.