Reading and Math Performance Remains Stagnant Among 12th Graders

While the nation’s graduation rates have reached a historic high, results from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) show that reading and math performance levels for U.S. 12th graders have made no progress. In fact, reading scores have declined since the early 1990s.

NAEP results from the 2013 school year show that nationally, 12th grade reading scores average 288 on a scale of zero to 500, which is the same score from 2009 and a score four points less than 1992 results. The national average for math is 153 points on a scale from zero to 300, which is no different from 2009 but up three points from 2005.

Despite years of effort from education officials to close the achievement gap between minority students and their white peers, disparities still exist with black and Hispanic students falling below proficiency levels. In math, 33 percent of white students scored proficient, with just 12 percent Hispanics and 7 percent blacks testing in the proficient range. For reading, 47 percent of white seniors are reading on a proficient level with black and Hispanics lagging behind with rates of 16 and 23 percent, respectively.

According to The Washington Post, Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke of his disapproval of the latest results, saying “We must reject educational stagnation in our high schools, and as a nation, we must do better for all students, especially for African American and Latino students.”

Some critics of the scores say that the stagnation is evidence that test-based accountability is ineffective, while others say the scores prove the need for more rigorous Common Core State Standards.

See the charts below for the race/ethnicity breakdown of the test results.