According to a report in the Christian Science Monitor American 17-year-olds aren't performing any better in reading and math than their bell-bottom-clad counterparts in the early 1970s. That's one conclusion from the latest round of a national test tracking long-term educational trends.
On the positive side, the test shows that younger students – 9- and 13-year-olds – are making significant gains. In addition, racial differences in scores have narrowed for all three age groups over the past 30-plus years.
But overall, the mixed results parallel other indicators of how challenging it is to raise academic achievement.
The flat-line trend for 17-year-olds should sound an alarm, say advocates of high school reform. "If high schools were cellphones, they'd be considered in a dead zone," says Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington advocacy group. "We've got to finally start addressing high schools in the same way that we addressed elementary schools.... This is the jumping-off place for college or the modern workplace, and our kids unfortunately are performing at [1970s] levels."
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