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New Report on 12th Grade Preparedness Research: Key Findings from the Nation's Report Card

New Report on 12th Grade Preparedness Research:
Key Findings from the Nation’s Report Card


WASHINGTON – (February 15, 2013) – The National Assessment Governing Board today released a web-based report on more than 30 research studies that examine whether the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) can be used to report on 12th graders' academic preparedness for college and job training.  The website provides ready access to key findings from the research studies and links to the complete research reports.

"With the research reported today and other studies in the pipeline, we believe NAEP can make important contributions to the national conversation about the academic preparation of high school graduates for college and job training," said Dr. David Driscoll, Governing Board Chair.

NAEP is uniquely positioned to shed light on these issues as the nation's only representative-sample assessment of 12th grade students. The research reported today, and the Board's ongoing studies, can inform and help advance what we know about measuring the preparedness of high school seniors for postsecondary endeavors.  At its core, the Board's research program addresses a series of questions related to the valid reporting of NAEP in terms of 12th grade academic preparedness. 

This first wave of the Board's empirical studies provides important responses to these questions.  Key findings are: 

  • Overall, the studies found similar content in NAEP and the college admissions examinations SAT and ACT, and somewhat less with the ACCUPLACER, a college placement exam.
  • The content comparison studies between NAEP and WorkKeys, an exam used to assess job-related skills, found significant differences in focus and rigor. This difference suggests the need for further research to explore separately student preparedness for college and job training.
  • In the studies linking NAEP to the SAT, the correlation was very strong between the two exams in mathematics and supports the use of a concordance in relating the two.  The correlation between NAEP reading and the SAT was moderate and supports the use of other statistical approaches in relating the two exams. 
  • Longitudinal analysis of Florida data confirms findings of the national linking study of NAEP and the SAT, and generally indicates that the region around Proficient could be a reasonable benchmark for college academic preparedness.  Florida's K-20 database was particularly informative in this initial phase of the Board's research.

"The achievement of this country's high school seniors is important for our economy and the future international competitiveness of the United States," said Cornelia Orr, the Board's Executive Director.  "Taken as a whole, the Governing Board's ongoing research can help advance education reform efforts across the nation aimed at ensuring students leave high school well-prepared for postsecondary endeavors."

For more than a decade, the Board has been working to strengthen 12th grade NAEP.  Efforts have included appointment of a blue-ribbon commission and changes in the NAEP 12th grade reading and math assessments.  In addition the Board appointed an expert panel, which proposed a program of research studies.  Subsequently the Board adopted a working definition of academic preparedness as the minimal reading and math achievement needed to qualify for credit-bearing college courses or job training programs without remediation.   The research released today is intended to examine and provide support for the valid use of NAEP to report on the achievement of students in relation this definition. 

The Board is using these newly-released research findings to inform ongoing preparedness studies based on results from the 2013 NAEP 12th grade assessments in reading and mathematics.

View the web-based report

Stephaan Harris