Are America's Students Learning Less?

Todayís 9-and 13-year-old students scored higher in reading and mathematics than their counterparts did 40 years ago according to The Nationís Report Card: Trends in Academic Progress 2012, a long-term trend assessment designed to track changes in the achievement of students ages 9, 13 and 17 since the 1970s. However, 17-year-olds did not show similar gains.
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Reading

Image of a line graph with three horizontal lines showing average scores for age 9, age 13, and age 17 students. The X axis is labeled year and shows various years from 1971 through 2012. The Y axis is labeled scale score and shows a range of scores from 0 to 500. Each horizontal line consists of two assessment variations: original assessment format and revised assessment format. 
      There are two data points in the transition year between original and revised formats. 
      For Reading age 9: The original format was used, In 1971 = 208, significantly different from 2012; 
      In 1975 = 210, significantly different from 2012; In 1980 = 215, significantly different from 2012;
       In 1984 = 211, significantly different from 2012; In 1988 = 212, significantly different from 2012; 
       In 1990 = 209, significantly different from 2012; In 1992 = 211, significantly different from 2012; 
       In 1994 = 211, significantly different from 2012; In 1996 = 212, significantly different from 2012; In 1999 = 
       212, significantly different from 2012; In 2004 = 219; The revised format was used, In 2004 = 216, 
       significantly different from 2012; In 2008 = 220; and In 2012 = 221. For Reading age 13: 
       The original format was used, In 1971 = 255, significantly different from 2012; In 1975 = 256, 
       significantly different from 2012; In 1980 = 258, significantly different from 2012; In 1984 = 257, 
       significantly different from 2012; In 1988 = 257, significantly different from 2012; In 1990 = 257, 
       significantly different from 2012; In 1992 = 260; In 1994 = 258, significantly different from 2012; 
       In 1996 = 258, significantly different from 2012; In 1999 = 259, significantly different from 2012;
        In 2004 = 259, significantly different from 2012; The revised format was used, In 2004 = 257, 
        significantly different from 2012; In 2008 = 260, significantly different from 2012; and In 2012 = 263. 
        For Reading age 17: The original format was used, In 1971 = 285; In 1975 = 286; In 1980 = 285;
         In 1984 = 289; In 1988 = 290, significantly different from 2012; In 1990 = 290, significantly different from 2012; In 1992 = 290, significantly different from 2012; In 1994 = 288; In 1996 = 288; In 1999 = 288; In 2004 = 285; 
         The revised format was used, In 2004 = 283, significantly different from 2012; In 2008 = 286; and In 2012 = 287.

Mathematics

Image of a line graph with three horizontal lines showing average scores for age 9, age 13, and age 17 students. The X axis is labeled year and shows various years from 1973 through 2012. The Y axis is labeled scale score and shows a range of scores from 0 to 500. Each horizontal line consists of three assessment variations: original assessment format, and revised assessment format, and extrapolated data. There are two data points in the transition year between original and revised formats. For Mathematics age 9: The scores were extrapolated In 1973 = 219, significantly different from 2012; The original format was used, In 1978 = 219, significantly different from 2012; In 1982 = 219, significantly different from 2012; In 1986 = 222, significantly different from 2012; In 1990 = 230, significantly different from 2012; In 1992 = 230, significantly different from 2012; In 1994 = 231, significantly different from 2012; In 1996 = 231, significantly different from 2012; In 1999 = 232, significantly different from 2012; In 2004 = 241; The revised format was used, In 2004 = 239, significantly different from 2012; In 2008 = 243; and In 2012 = 244. For Mathematics age 13: The scores were extrapolated In 1973 = 266, significantly different from 2012; The original format was used, In 1978 = 264, significantly different from 2012; In 1982 = 269, significantly different from 2012; In 1986 = 269, significantly different from 2012; In 1990 = 270, significantly different from 2012; In 1992 = 273, significantly different from 2012; In 1994 = 274, significantly different from 2012; In 1996 = 274, significantly different from 2012; In 1999 = 276, significantly different from 2012; In 2004 = 281, significantly different from 2012; The revised format was used, In 2004 = 279, significantly different from 2012; In 2008 = 281, significantly different from 2012; and In 2012 = 285. For Mathematics age 17: The scores were extrapolated In 1973 = 304; The original format was used, In 1978 = 300, significantly different from 2012; In 1982 = 298, significantly different from 2012; In 1986 = 302, significantly different from 2012; In 1990 = 305; In 1992 = 307; In 1994 = 306; In 1996 = 307; In 1999 = 308; In 2004 = 307; The revised format was used, In 2004 = 305; In 2008 = 306; and In 2012 = 306.

Editorial Education Reform could be one answer?

Sources

National Assessment of Education Progress press release

Nation's Report Card has the test scores

Long and Short Term Difference.