More Worthless Diplomas

The Washington Post 

By: Jennifer Rubin

Two telling sets of statistics this week point to the problem at the heart of K-12 education. The Post reports, “The nation’s high school seniors have shown no improvement in math and reading performance since 2009, and large racial achievement gaps persist, according to the results of a test administered by the federal government last year. The results, released at an event Wednesday at Dunbar High School in Northwest Washington, detail students’ performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. Also called the Nation’s Report Card, NAEP is widely regarded as the most consistent measure of U.S. students’ achievement over time. Since the 1990s, it has been administered every four years to high school students and every two years to students in grades four and eight.” That news comes “just days after Education Secretary Arne Duncan celebrated the nation’s 80 percent graduation rate, its highest ever.”

In short, we are churning out more worthless diplomas than ever before. We have spent a boatload of money only to find we are not improving the ability of U.S. high school graduates to tackle college-level work or compete in the global economy. The results are a disgrace: “Twelfth-grade national reading scores averaged 288 on a scale of zero to 500 — the same as 2009 and down four points since 1992. Nearly four in ten students scored high enough to be considered proficient or above in reading. In math, only 26 percent scored high enough to be considered proficient or above.”

If you look around the world at nations that are now outperforming the United States on international tests, it is not hard to figure out the differences between their vastly improved educational systems and ours. It is not simply the pay of teachers that matters but the selectivity of education programs, the rigor of their preparation and the continuing education and feedback they receive. Improve all that and many taxpayers would be willing to increase pay for teachers whose students excel.

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