New Test Results Reveal A "Lost Decade" For Academic Progress In Public Schools

The biannual report card from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) has been released. The results indicate a lost decade for academic progress in America’s public schools, with little progress measured in eighth-grade reading and zero improvements for reading in fourth-grade or for mathematics in eighth-grade.

Despite the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars pumped into the education programs at state and federal levels per annum, the return on developing America’s intelligent, future leaders of tomorrow is failing.

“This has been education’s lost decade,” Michael Petrilli, president of the reform-oriented Thomas B. Fordham Institute, told The 74 Million.

NAEP was administered in 1Q2017 to a nationally representative sample of 149,400 fourth-graders and 144,900 eighth-graders. Fourth-grade scores in 2017 were unchanged in math and declined in reading, though the decline was not determined to be significant. On the other hand, eighth-graders made marginal progress in both subjects, though reading was much stronger than math.

The 74 Million said in the modern era of academic standards and school accountability over the last two decades, the flat trajectory in education progress for public school youth have left education reformers baffled.

“In some ways, the flat trajectory provides relief for educators after the especially bitter NAEP news in 2015, when scores dropped for three out of four age/subject groupings. The development came as states were still rolling out testing regimes aligned with the Common Core, and the new standards were widely (and controversially) blamed for bringing down student performance.


Although scores for American students have gone through periods of sizable and consistent growth — most recently at the dawn of the modern era of academic standards and school accountability in the late 1990s and early 2000s — results over the past 10 years have left education reformers at a loss.”

Petrilli said, “the one-point [increase] in eighth-grade reading? I’m not going to start a party for that one. We’ve been basically flat since the late 2000s. There was a time when we were making some big progress nationally, and we’re not seeing that now. The results are disappointing.”

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) noticed a troubling trend in test scores — spotted about two years ago. While the national average in test scores stagnated over the past decade, “scores for the highest-performing eighth-graders (those scoring at the 75th and 90th percentiles) nosed higher, while those for the lowest-performing students (those at the 10th and 25th percentiles) declined in fourth-grade math, eighth-grade math, and fourth-grade reading,” detailed The 74 Million.

“Some of the hypotheses [for growing score gaps] would include that we’re seeing some of the lingering effects of the Great Recession,” Petrilli said.

“And that can impact both kids, individually — what’s going on in their homes, if they’re experiencing greater challenges than before — and … schools, in terms of funding. If that’s a factor, you’d expect to see it most strikingly for the lowest-performing kids.”

University of Southern California education professor Morgan Polikoff said that the growing performance gap could be caused by wealth inequalities developed after the Great Recession.

“I think it’s certainly conceivable that that’s a real phenomenon — that there’s a widening of the gaps, and you sort of imagine that that might have something to do with widening socioeconomic gaps or increases in the degree of poverty among relatively poor people in the U.S.,” he explained to The 74. “That seems plausible.”

“The story seems to be no story,” he added.

“On average, it looks like not too much has changed from 2015. I think there was a good deal of progress for most grades and subjects from 1990 up to maybe 2005, 2007, 2009, somewhere in that window. And there definitely seems to have been some sort of leveling off since then.”

Among the 27 large cities across the United States for which the Department of Education published the 2017 NAEP test scores, Detroit and Fresno school districts had the lowest scores in math for eighth-graders; meanwhile, eighth-graders in Charlotte and Austin had some of the brightest students in the country.

Per CNSNews:

  • Only 5 percent of Detroit public-school eighth-graders were proficient or better in math. Only 7 percent were proficient or better in reading.

  • In the Cleveland public schools, only 11 percent of eighth-graders were proficient or better in math and only 10 percent were proficient or better in reading.

  • In the Baltimore public schools, only 11 percent were proficient or better in math and only 13 percent were proficient or better in reading.

  • In the Fresno public schools, only 11 percent were proficient or better in math and only 14 percent were proficient or better in reading.

Urban Districts Ranked By Percentage of 8th Graders Proficient in Math 2017 NAEP Test :

Urban Districts Ranked By Percentage of 8th Graders Proficient in Reading 2017 NAEP Test:

States Ranked By Percentage of 8th Graders Proficient in Math 2017 NAEP Test:

States Ranked By Percentage of 8th Graders Proficient in Reading 2017 NAEP Test:

If American exceptionalism begins with education, then why is the public school system falling apart?



JimmyJones Dun_Dulind Thu, 05/03/2018 - 23:15 Permalink

When you do more of what's not working you tend to get negative results.

Illegal immigration has to stop, for a period of time the classroom size in K-6 has to drop to IMO no more than 8. The curriculum needs to add way more real world exercises that shows how what is taught is applied in real life. Kids can learn calculous if you show them how to apply it.  Designing a parabolic mirror that can melt steel with sunlight for example.

In reply to by Dun_Dulind

philipat JimmyJones Thu, 05/03/2018 - 23:18 Permalink

Um, I'm just guessing here but this is not a coincidence and all part of a deliberate strategy by the Deep State to Dumb down the masses and assist in further controlling them through ongoing indoctrination and propaganda in the MSM?  Combine this with a narcissistic decadent end of Empire "culture", also instigated by "the elites" and you have a great recipe for totalitarian rule, which is, of course, the desired outcome.

Educated people who are able to think critically and question authority, especially with truthful information sources available on the internet, is not something "the elites" welcome.

Of course, the stupidity of Teacher Union practices (or perhaps that these have been allowed to continue) has not helped, but IMHO it goes much deeper than that.

In reply to by JimmyJones

FireBrander philipat Thu, 05/03/2018 - 23:22 Permalink

Psssst...secret between you and I...schools deliberately try to keep those scores down...the only way to "fix" low test scores is by pumping in more money.

How? They give the test at the beginning/middle of the school take the 8th grade test before you complete the 8th grade...keep that between us please.

In reply to by philipat

Pool Shark OpTwoMistic Fri, 05/04/2018 - 01:30 Permalink

You don’t have to be some overpaid academic from the University of Spoiled Children (USC) to know what the causes are:


1) Rise Of Single Parent Welfare-Dependent Families.

2) Lack of Values taught at home in the early years of a child’s life.

3) Elimination of God and any teaching of morality in the classroom (i.e., all cultural and lifestyle choices are morally equivalent).

4) Rampant immigration from corrupt, 3rd world countries with deficient cultures and value systems.


There; and I didn’t need a multi-million dollar educational grant to develop those conclusions.

In reply to by OpTwoMistic

vato poco Pool Shark Fri, 05/04/2018 - 02:31 Permalink

disagree. even allowing for the disruptive influence of those factors - and they're fuckin awful - these results would not be that bad if that wasn't the goal. like the guy upstream posted: the Joker was right - it really IS alllllll part of the plannnnnn.

Richard Feynman told a story in a book he wrote in the mid 60's. he had his Nobel by then, and the Pasadena schools came to him to get his opinion on their new math text. IIRC, it featured 'new math'. they were quite proud of it. Feynman was flabbergasted. he said, in essence, the *only* reason for that particular freaky-bad approach to be taken was if failure was the goal. they ignored the Nobel prize winner, and introduced the texts the next year.

see also: any & all books by John Taylor Gatto, former NY State Teacher of the Year. he says 'goal = failure' too.

In reply to by Pool Shark

Ayreos Pool Shark Fri, 05/04/2018 - 05:34 Permalink

You can call these factors (and the many more influencing education) culture. It's all about the big picture.

The stagnation of the school system mirrors the economic stagnation. When money stops flowing freely towards an area of society, that area stagnates, but it doesn't fail completely. Instead the other areas associated to it in our interconnected society start stagnating as well instead. It's similar to what banksters call "contagion". Students' grades are depressed because their families' incomes are depressed. Teacher performance is depressed because school budgets are not the money buffet they used to be. School budgets are cut because privates and govt alike are trying to slash expenses more aggressively than before. Etcetera. The cultural collapse can be seen in almost every area of society today. When entitlement and pride meet the economic and political reality of our world, in which nothing is gained and nothing is given without hard work and constant effort, the mentality of "every man for himself" takes root. The change in mentality is so rapid it can be seen everywhere. It takes the appearance of a wholesale, dramatic national decadence. And yet it's just the loss of faith in everyone when everyone and everything is seen to be struggling.

In reply to by Pool Shark

JimmyJones wee-weed up Thu, 05/03/2018 - 23:37 Permalink

100% spot on from that point on they destroyed the course curriculum. Shop was eliminated in many States, zero electrical or electronic education (because who uses that daily), zero info in civil procedure, zero education on local government functions and how to navigate the departments, chemistry that is presented in such a boring way glaze over and never find out how to use it to make various chemical compounds. Machining, what's that? I could go in forever. But I'm sure those kids know all about transgender rights.

In reply to by wee-weed up

Not Goldman Sachs brianshell Fri, 05/04/2018 - 06:16 Permalink

Blame the teachers!

Wait, have you seen what they have to work with? Your kids, well not ZH chittlin, but everyone else's who have be living the good life, immediate pleasure.

The fall of exceptionalism is well underway..

Disclaimer: no kids, but taught several thousand in college. 

More money to the top will not fix the cancer.

In reply to by brianshell

techpriest wee-weed up Fri, 05/04/2018 - 00:24 Permalink

It has been going on for as long as we've had public schools. John Taylor Gatto has done some excellent analysis on the relationship between the public schools and the Carnegie Foundation (Carnegie published essays on his plans to create "better workers" through compulsory schooling) among other organizations.

I would recommend starting with "The Underground History of American Education" If you want a good description of the *problem.* Read Gatto's "A Different Kind of Teacher" if you want the *solution,* what he calls unschooling.

In reply to by wee-weed up

not dead yet wee-weed up Fri, 05/04/2018 - 04:25 Permalink

Oh please, it's not a total failure. The consultants, testing outfits, school administrators, education policy makers, and others feeding at the education water hole have done quite nicely. When people are convinced to pony up their cash, money will cure the ills they're told, they don't realize how little of that excess really goes towards education. We need to go back to the 50's and 60's where we had quality in a system of K-12 and 180 day school year instead of the current start'em as young as 3, lengthen the school day and year, eliminate phy ed and recess, and teach them liberal arts bullshit and pushing political agendas. You can get a really good tablet for 100 to 150 bucks yet the schools push for 700 ipads that the kids love to hack. What we have is an incest laden system where an out of touch education industry has no clue and creates debaters instead of thinkers and those that do and gives them no skills. A couple of colleges got tired of the bullshit and hired non educators to run their institutions and the education industry went wild. Their bitch was how could a non educator know how to run a school and decide what to teach. It's pretty obvious, except to the education industry, that educators have a poor grasp on reality and teach all the wrong stuff. Unfortunately for most states one cannot be an educator or education administration unless you have a teaching degree.

In reply to by wee-weed up

Meyer Bauer FireBrander Thu, 05/03/2018 - 23:33 Permalink

I think these nombers are over the above there true meaning average. If'n no state has over 50% of their poeple able in any of these cat-te-gories that kin pass the testes - them oh my goth.

Its said the nine ty Purcent of Amuricsns think "intercourse" means "fuckin'. But without the precedent "sexual" in a front of 'er - she really means "to talk" Cee wut I mean!

In reply to by FireBrander

Oh regional Indian philipat Thu, 05/03/2018 - 23:22 Permalink

It's easy to talk commie schools, commie curriculum, German style regimentation, Skinner box stimulus response training, Isrbyt and on and on anon.

But that is the least of it, the symptom layer.

The deception to produce dumber and dumber humans goes waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay deeper..... we speak a twisted tongue, the root cause of ALL decline... face it, or don't, everything tells us that is the way IT is ;-)……

In reply to by philipat

Baron Samedi philipat Fri, 05/04/2018 - 00:12 Permalink

No - no coincidences! John Taylor Gatto's (+Charlotte Iserbyt) books did it for me.  Imho some nice people connected to large foundations decided to use the American people as lab rats en route to their dystopia - a post-modern global serfdom.

J. D. Rockefeller said it: "I don't want a nation of thinkers, I want a nation of workers"


In reply to by philipat

pparalegal philipat Fri, 05/04/2018 - 04:35 Permalink

The father of current public "education" (as practiced by every change agent [their term, not mine] public school teacher and administrator over the past 50 years) John Dewey and his groupthink progressive plan has been a resounding success. At producing dumbed down socialist worker bees. If you can handle the truth, look up the works of former Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Dept. of Education Charlotte Iserbyt.

In reply to by philipat

curbjob JimmyJones Thu, 05/03/2018 - 23:26 Permalink

Thankfully proficiency in mathematics has declined ... I mean if kids understood the exponential function,  they'd realize that it's a mathematical certainty that the US debt can never be repaid and that may lead many of them to question whether they want to participate  in the ponzi ... certainly a disruption we can live without.

In reply to by JimmyJones

roddy6667 JimmyJones Fri, 05/04/2018 - 06:07 Permalink

I started first grade in 1954. Classes averaged 30-32 students and there was a teacher, no assistant. We had a principal, a secretary, and a part-time school nurse. Everybody learned how to read in first grade, even the dumbassses. We learned arithmetic. By third grade, we knew as much as many ghetto high school graduates know now. 

NO, class size does not need to drop to 8. That sounds like some kind of masturbation fantasy for the teachers' union.


In reply to by JimmyJones

beijing expat Dun_Dulind Fri, 05/04/2018 - 00:11 Permalink

They are spending all their time learning about anal sax and Muh oppression and holocost studies.  No time for cis heteronormative patriarchy subjects like reading and math. 

The goal in education is equity. If the kids can’t be equal in proficiency, they can be equal in failure.

As a parent I’ll tell ya, get your kids out NOW.  Especially if they are boys.  

In reply to by Dun_Dulind

dogsandhoney2 Dun_Dulind Fri, 05/04/2018 - 00:52 Permalink

petrilli has been a privatization shill for years and years.


even a dog knows statistical adjustment for poverty eliminates the score difference:…

but since confirmation bias has been so thoroughly established,

rational analysis doesn't matter.

just who are the sheeple here?

and who are jingling the bling?

woof! woof!

In reply to by Dun_Dulind

dogsandhoney2 techpriest Sat, 05/05/2018 - 10:25 Permalink

i appreciate the interesting question.

'cept forced choices are not truly

that interesting or choice. 

the sense of dog smell provides much greater variety and distinction.

lots of countries (even in the "west") are not corporate or devos...

take finland or any of the scandinavian schools, for example.

it aint the teachers, it's the neoliberal-privatization dumbing down

that stinks.

woof!  woof!

In reply to by techpriest

Mini-Me Thu, 05/03/2018 - 23:27 Permalink

Besides mass murder, lying, spying, and spending, what does the government do well?  It's given us the Post Office, AMTRAK, the TSA, Pentagon accounting, security state criminality, and of course, the Fed. 

Everything it touches turns to shit.  Why should government schools be the exception?