Students Want More Rigor

July 19th, 2012

Category: News

Last week the Center for American Progress released a report with an interesting finding: students say their classwork is too easy.  The researchers reviewed student responses to the survey that accompanies NAEP (a national assessment known as “the nation’s report card”). Yet, the researchers found that less than 40% of students in 2011 were proficient in reading or math. Here are some highlights of what they found:

  • Math classes are too easy. More than a third of 4th graders (a higher percent than those who were deemed proficient on NAEP) say their math instruction is too easy. More than a third of 8th graders say they are “learning” only some of the time in class; this number rises to over half by 12th grade.
  • Students are reading and writing too little. Almost a third of 8th graders report reading five or fewer pages a day during school and at home combined. A slightly higher number said they wrote long answers on reading tests less than three times a year.  The number increases by 12th grade, with many also saying they rarely identify main themes in or summarize passages.
  • It’s even worse in other subjects. Almost three quarters of the nation’s 8th grade science students say they don’t learn about engineering and technology. Over half of 8th and 12th graders said their history and civics courses were often or always too easy.

Researchers reported that they also found that these statistics were worse in some areas for racial/ethnic subgroups and low-income students. Delaware students’ answers are close to the national average.

It’ll be interesting to see how these responses change during next year’s administration of NAEP, especially in Delaware. With the state’s implementation of higher standards with Common Core, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and data tracking to inform instruction, and the renewed effort to support more students in more AP/IB courses, I would expect students to report feeling more engaged and challenged. In the meantime, parents, administrators, and especially teachers should take note of the report and continue finding new ways to make sure their students are learning.

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Brian Yin



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