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NAEP 2004 TRENDS IN ACADEMIC PRORGRESS COMMENTARY

I looked at this full report and found mainly bad stuff in it. The Secretary of Education says that the NCLB bill is getting results. The NAEP report that shows results from students aged 9, 13 and 17 really only showed good results if you want to call them good for 9 year olds. At age 13 you get mixed results and at age 17 you get bad results.

When I looked at the 9 year olds test results it showed a gain of 7 points in reading from a score of 212 to 219 from the years of 1999 to 2004. That is a 3.3% gain in 5 years is something that I do not think it so hot but it is a nice gain. The best 9-year-old gainers were at the lowest two percentile brackets where gains were 4% in 5 years. Mathematics scores had a gain of 9 points from 232 to 241 for the same age group. That came to a gain of around 2.8%. Another gain that I think is not so hot but it was still a nice gain. Each percentile bracket had a nice number gain imo for the math scores. The sample questions they showed for the 9-year-old students imo should have not been guessed wrong at all, but loads of students missed the correct response for the reading part of the exam and one math question as well.

At 13 years old the reading part showed no gain. The score stayed at 259 since 1999 which I thinks sucks. Hardly any movement in each percentile bracket as well. That is not a good sign at all. Math on the other hand saw a small gain of points from 286 to 291. I do not think that is much of a good gain at all. The sample questions for the 13 year olds showed good results for the reading part, but an awful result for one math question.

Seventeen year olds saw a small drop in the reading scores of 3 points from a score of 288 down to 285. It all has to do with the writing part of the exam imo and it will get discussed later. All percentile brackets dropped and the biggest drop number wise was in the lowest percentile bracket which is certainly no good. Math scores only dropped one point from 308 down to 307 and what is worse is that math scores over the past 30 years have not done really well at all for this age group at all. Two out of the three sample math questions for the 17 year olds were botched badly. Reading had one multiple-choice question which I thought which had a good amount of people answer correctly, BUTTTT the writing part was really botched up badly. The thing you had to write got scored as elaborated interpretation, satisfactory interpretation, minimal interpretation, or unsatisfactory Interpretation. Only 1% of the writings were scored as elaborated interpretation, 18% got the satisfactory interpretation score, 44% got minimal interpretation, and 37% got an unsatisfactory Interpretation score. Since I do not think a minimal interpretation score is a good thing well over 75% got a bad score. That really says to me that writing to me is not really stressed in the high school curriculum at all. A recent report by The National Commission on Writing states that the state governments spend over 200 million per year just to improve the writing skills of employees. If writing was more stressed in the high school years we would easily have much better NAEP reading scores.

Two other sets of graphs from the NAEP report showed some troubling things. Hispanics were barely beating the blacks most of the time but were still getting crushed by the whites even though the gap is starting to close. The other graph that showed troubling things was talking about performance levels at different age levels. At the lowest performance level in each age level things were fine except for 17 year olds in reading which needs improvement. As you move up to other performance levels massive drops occurred except for 9 and 13 years in math just one performance level up. That info certainly says to me we still have a long ways to go in improving the educational system.

In the end I still think NCLB is not doing all that I can do to solve the education mess the USA is in. I think Margaret Spellings is overly happy about a report that is not so hot imo. We will need to go beyond what the NCLB bill forces states to do in order to get some real gains in scores for all students the NAEP reported on.

SOURCES

Nine-year-olds do best yet in math and reading, report finds CNN.com & AP (2005) n. pag. Online. Internet. July 13, 2005
Available: http://www.cnn.com/2005/EDUCATION/07/14/math.reading.scores.ap/index.html

NAEP 2004 Trends In Academic Progress Three Decades of Student Performance In Reading and Mathematics NCES n. pag. Online. Internet. July 2005
Available: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2005/2005464.pdf

Writing: A powerful Message from State Government The National Commission on Writing (2005) n. pag. Online. Internet. July 5, 2005
Available: http://www.writingcommission.org/prod_downloads/writingcom/powerful-message-from-state.pdf