A report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), what some refer to as the “National Report Card,” examines data and test scores of students in public and private schools across the nation.
In five states, Florida, Texas, California, New York and Illinois, the report pointed to the growing population of Hispanic students, and said that their standardized test scores lag behind those of their Anglo and African-American peers. While there have been improvements in some states, such as Florida, the numbers are still below the national average.
In a related article in The New York Times, Richard Zeiger, the chief deputy superintendent of public instruction for the California Department of Education, said that that one in four students in California is an English-language learner. He pointed to the stripping of school budgets in California, a problem that is prevalent throughout the country, and more specifically Texas and Florida, two of the other states in the study.
Hispanic students scored lower almost across the board than their Anglo counterparts, even in the arts. Girls scored higher than boys and overall, despite the low scores, the numbers do appear to be improving nationwide. If politicians look at the trends, they’ll probably pat themselves on the back because of the general uptick in scores in most subjects. But the truth is in the details. The majority of students are still under-performing. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private charitable organization dedicated to helping disadvantaged children in the United States, noted that 49% of the students who scored below basic on the (NAEP) assessment in 2009 came from low income families.
It doesn’t take long to see the trend: lower income students, students of color, students in urban areas and students in public schools generally score lower in most, if not all subjects. The system is failing these students.
Read Related: How to Prepare Your Kids for SAT/ACT Testing
When politicians run for office, they claim to be pro-education. They offer a laundry list of promises like money for schools, change in policies, higher teacher pay, and so on; but rarely do any of these promises materialize. In most schools, especially poor urban schools, budgets are sliced and programs eliminated. Meanwhile politicians and school administrators keep setting the bar higher, demanding better test scores or modified assessment tests. When President Obama gave states the option to opt out of No Child Left Behind, state governments and politicians like Florida Governor Rick Scott, simply rewrote required scores for the state’s assessment tests. Also in Florida, there have been proposals to accept lower test scores from students of color.
Public schools and the students who attend them are being tested again and again, but little is being done to change the broken educational system. Instead of simply looking to standardized tests, it’s time politicians focused on changing the system, offer better training for teachers, better teacher pay, special programs for urban schools and students of color, and a change in the attitude where teachers and schools are no longer demonized.