Cue Tom Oster, South Dakota education secretary:
South Dakota’s 12th grade reading and math scores are well above the national average, according to results released today by the National Assessment Governing Board. South Dakota was one of 11 states to participate in a 2009 pilot program that provided state-level results for the National Assessment of Educational Progress at 12th grade.
In reading, South Dakota’s 12th graders had an average score of 292, compared to the national average of 287. In math, South Dakota's 12th graders had an average score of 160, compared to the national average of 152.
“Our students have typically performed well at both grades 4 and 8, and our 12th graders were no different,” said Secretary of Education Tom Oster.* “South Dakota was one of five states with higher average scores than the nation in both reading and math” [South Dakota Department of Education, "South Dakota's NAEP Pilot Scores among Best," press release, 2010.11.18].
Turn now to the national news on those test scores, which takes a little longer-term perspective:
A national education assessment released Thursday shows that high school seniors have made some improvement in reading, but remain below the achievement levels reached nearly two decades ago.
...Students scored an average of 288 out of 500 points in reading comprehension, two points above the 2005 score but still below the 1992 average of 292. Thirty-eight percent of 12th grade students were classified as at or above the "proficient" level, while 74 percent were considered at or above "basic."
"Today's report suggests that high school seniors' achievement in reading and math isn't rising fast enough to prepare them to succeed in college and careers," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said [Christine Armario, "12th-Grade Students Still Below '92 Reading Scores," AP via Yahoo News, 2010.11.18].
Eight years of No Child Left Behind, and our students still aren't doing any better than they did years before John Boehner, Ted Kennedy, and George W. Bush decided Washington knows best what your local schools should do. Time to get NCLB out of the way and try a new plan!