College & Careers

Fewer than 40 percent of seniors ready for college-level work, NAEP analysis says



Test-300x2261.jpgFewer than 40 percent of the nation’s high school seniors have the mathematics and reading skills necessary for entry-level college work, according to a new analysis of scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Only 39 percent of 12th-graders have the math skills for basic college work and only 38 percent have the reading skills, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the National Center for Education Statistics. The analysis is based on 12th-graders’ scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. The test, also called The Nation’s Report Card, is administered by the federal government every four years and is considered the only source of nationally representative student achievement data over time.

This is the first year the 12th-grade test included an analysis of how well students are prepared for college. Researchers based their estimate on the number of students who scored 163 or above – out of a possible 300 – on the math section, and those who scored 302 or above, out of a possible 500, on the reading section.

“The results are in, and unfortunately, they are lackluster,” said David Driscoll, chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP, in a statement. “But it is only by knowing these sobering data that we can build the sense of urgency needed to better prepare students for higher education.”

The 12th-grade test was taken by a representative sample of 92,000 students across the country. National results were released last week, along with the results for 11 states that are participating in an voluntary pilot program and receive additional information about their students’ scores. California scores were not reported individually.

Overall, the national results were stagnant: Scores in reading averaged 288 and math scores averaged 153; both scores were identical to those reported in 2009.

Michelle Maitre covers career and college readiness. Contact her and follow her on Twitter @michelle_maitre. Sign up here for a no-cost online subscription to EdSource Today for reports from the largest education reporting team in California.

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8 Responses to “Fewer than 40 percent of seniors ready for college-level work, NAEP analysis says”

  1. Richard Moore said

    on May 15, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Let’s see. In the 1960s, CA’s Master Plan for Education mandated a UC system that would take the top 12.5%. And a CSU system that would take the next 33%. So they expected 45.5% of students to be ready for a four year college education. And the rest could go to junior colleges to prepare for careers or for the four year schools. And 50 years later, we are 5% short of that goal. So the problem is . . . what?

    • FloydThursby replied

      on May 15, 2014 at 11:44 am

      1. Parenting. 60% of Asian American kids enter Kindergarten having learned basic reading and math and memorizing the frequency words, 16% of whites, even less for other groups. Asian parenting remains superior, as even in high school and college, Asians pull ahead with heavy parental support and priority.

      2. Effort. Asian American kids average 13.8 hours a week studying and reading vs. 5.6 for whites, less for others which outnumber whites and are very significant. This hasn’t changed much despite studies showing 20 hours a week is optimal and UC entrants average about 25.

      3. TV and games. On average, California kids spend over 40 hours on TV and video games. Asians spend about 10. Girls spend less than boys and are 60% of Lowell and close to that of the UCs. We haven’t convinced kids to reject this. TV and video games are hurting UC attendance far more than drugs, smoking and alcohol, which are also problems and done less by Asians, but we have heavy education efforts aimed at drugs and minimal aimed at TV/games.

      4. LIFO. This hurts, we teach kids seniority, not attendance and effort, matter most in the profession they observe most. Some kids get stuck with bad teachers. Most are good, but even the good defend the bad. Remember, until he lost the union considered Berndt a noble cause and fought and demanded 40k to fire a molester, and over 100k to fire most teachers, only 91 in ten years. Most bad teachers survive and do a tremendous amount of damage and are defended by the union as a noble victim of managerial overreach.

      Even the Asian percentages are short of what I view as possible. With a great work ethic, it can be overcome. These are the main 4 reasons. Funding and poverty are factors, but Asians overcome poverty and funding is often wasted. We’re about to see increased funding and my prediction is it will have no impact on the achievement gap or UC readiness. It could, but won’t.

    • Paul Muench replied

      on May 15, 2014 at 10:32 pm

      I see this study compares NAEP to SAT and ACT results. So it doesn’t strictly say anything about readiness for community college, positive or negative.

  2. Educator said

    on May 15, 2014 at 10:03 am

    I think only about 40% of Americans end up going to a 4-year college, so doesn’t this make sense? (Not saying it’s a good thing. Just saying if only 40% of Americans end up going to 4-year college and only 40% of seniors are college ready, then it seems to fit.) It’s unclear if “college ready” means 2 and 4 year colleges though.

    • FloydThursby replied

      on May 15, 2014 at 11:33 am

      Yes, but every child could be college ready, Asian achievement proves that. The consensus is it isn’t genetic but based on Asians working longer and harder and avoiding TV. We can do better, much better. If it’s not genetic, it is a failure of the work ethic, of the system and of all of us. The whole point of integrating schools is to equalize effort and achievement, but we have people in the same school where those failing are not learning from the successful, not changing, just doing the same thing. It starts in pre-school and goes on and on. There are schools where Asians are thriving and others failing. All it would take would be a shift in priorities and all Californians could be doing as well as Asian American Californians are doing now, 35% good enough to enter a UC by today’s standards, over 60% graduating college, under 0.2% ever homeless or in jail or prison. It can be done, we just have to change parenting and basic behavior.

  3. navigio said

    on May 15, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Remediation has always been required. Even when only 2% of the population attended college. Thus this is meaningless without an historical backdrop of how remediation rates compare and how the college attending demographics compare.

  4. Floyd Thursby said

    on May 14, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    This is a horrible failure in our system. This is why we need a difficult exit exam many kids fail. To me, if you’re not ready for this, you shouldn’t pass the exit exam. They whined about those who would fail it and watered it down so much it became meaningless. My daughter got 427 of 450 her first time, and you only need 350 to pass, and she’s a sophomore and not even getting all Bs and As, has gotten some Cs. But it is so watered down, it’s easy to pass. They complained some would fail, but that’s the point, it makes a high school diploma meaningful if some people fail.

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