New results from The Nation's Report Card: 2015 Mathematics and Reading at Grade 12 indicate that only 37 percent of the country’s high school seniors are prepared for college level math and reading.
The National Assessment Governing Board began using NAEP results in 2013 to determine "the percentage of grade 12 students who possess the knowledge and skills in reading and mathematics that would make them academically prepared for first-year college coursework,” the Governing Board said in a statement.
Top officials on the board called the latest results “worrisome,” because it appears that student achievement has hit a wall and a majority of the country’s students simply aren’t ready for the next step.
"A strong foundation in math and reading is essential to a student being prepared for college academics and for most careers, so this trend of stagnating scores is worrisome," Governing Board Chair Terry Mazany said in the statement.
"We must examine how we're preparing students for life after high school, whether offering more students advanced math coursework, for example, or placing greater emphasis on reading for pleasure and for school. This is a crucial time in education, and there are many things each of us can do to help ensure every student succeeds.”
Unpreparedness also has an epic price tag attached for students looking to catch up once in college. According to NPR, the trend of students taking high school courses in college to catch up is costing them and their families nearly $1.5 billion annually.
Students accepted into colleges and universities but unprepared for the coursework are spending thousands of dollars to study things they should have learned in high school.
"Over all, across all income groups at all types of colleges, students are borrowing an extra $380 million a year just to take high-school level courses in the first year of college,” NPR said.
And it’s not just low-income students who are unprepared thanks to the achievement gap, either.
According to recent analysis from advocacy group Education Reform Now and the advocacy publication Education Post "of state and federal higher education data, 45 percent of students who place into remedial courses come from middle- and high-income families,” NPR said.
The Washington Post calls NAEP’s latest news “sobering,” and says it raises into question whether the high school diploma is a meaningful determinant of academic achievement; high school graduation rates are at their highest despite most students remaining stagnant in reading and math achievement scores.
Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor