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Assessing the preparedness of 12th-graders makes sense

Dec. 08, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

The testing program that results in the well-known Nation's Report Card provides an important tool for assessing how well schools are doing to educate our young people.

The National Assessment Governing Board oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress test of fourth- and eighth-graders across the country, and the results are considered the best objective measure of students' mastery of key subjects. It makes sense to track student achievement during the course of their educational careers, so that educators can detect where extra support or changes may be needed to improve results.

But what's missing is an assessment of the end product of K-12 systems, or just how well-prepared are students for the next stage in their life, whether that be entering the job market or continuing their education. As we've heard many times, college admissions officials and employers lament the preparedness of graduates for taking the next step.

The National Assessment Governing Board is now trying to fill that gap, by developing a nationwide assessment of 12th-graders. It recently sponsored a symposium on the subject in Charleston, which makes sense since West Virginia will conduct a pilot of the new program next year.

The rationale behind finding a way to measure 12th-graders' preparedness for the work world or further education makes sense. That obviously is a crucial stage for young people, and getting a handle on their readiness for what's next is important for the nation's school systems to know. Such a testing program can let us know where shortcomings exist, and provide a road map for making changes in the classroom to address them.

The hoped-for result would be students better prepared to step into adulthood and pursue successful, satisfying lives.

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