For the first time since the federal government began administering national tests in 1990, mathematics scores declined for both fourth and eighth graders. This test, called the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), measures student achievement from some students around the nation- it is the only test of its kind that is given nationwide. The cause of this drop cannot be pinpointed, but these results raise questions about both the changes in our educational system and the validity of the NAEP itself.
There are many current changes in America's public education system. Demographic shifts are occurring, in which there are more students from low-income families and students learning how to speak English. The NAEP test results also continue to reveal the varying performance of children of different ethnicities, communities, and family income.
Some have also attributed this drop in scores to the implementation of Common Core, an initiative that attempts to establish consistent educational standards across the US and prepare students for college or the workforce (plus you probably encountered some of this standardized testing in the past year). 42 states adopted Common Core Standards with the incentive of qualifying for a Race to the Top grant in 2009, announced by President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Opponents to Common Core and NAEP argue that the Common Core curriculum and the exam do not line up, and that the inconvenient shift in curriculum is causing the drop in scores as well.
Others simply criticize the NAEP itself, claiming that its standard of "proficiency" is too high, and the test cannot adequately measure the ability of a student to be successful.
Do you think that the drop in the scores is cause for concern? Does more need to be done to fix our education system? Does testing like this provide much benefit, or is it just an ineffective use of time for students?
What role does Common Core play in this? What role should the federal government play in this, or is it up to the states?
The Washington Post, Aljazeera, US News (photo from here)