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The Nation's Report Card and 12th Grade Academic Preparedness: Regional Symposium

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MS Public Radio: Employment and 12th Grade Academic Preparedness

November 18, 2011 Nashville Symposium Panelists

April 10, 2012
Jackson, MS

The NAEP 12th Grade Preparedness Commission hosted a symposium in Jackson, Mississippi, to discuss the NAEP research on 12th grade academic preparedness and the feasibility of The Nation's Report Card serving as an indicator for preparedness. The Jackson event, which brought together regional leaders in K-12 and higher education, business, civil rights, and legislative policy, was the fourth in the series and followed events in BostonNashville, and Sacramento.

A panel of noted local experts addressed the implications of 12th grade academic preparedness for Mississippi's economy and jobs and discussed the potential relevance of NAEP as an indicator of preparedness for Mississippi and the nation.

Presiding over the symposium was the Hon. Ronnie Musgrove, former governor of Mississippi and Chair of the NAEP 12th Grade Preparedness Commission.

Greg Jones, president and CEO (retired) of State Farm General Insurance and vice chair of the Commission, andCornelia Orr, executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board, presented information about the preparedness research initiative and solicited ideas from attendees for additional research and partnering opportunities.

Tom Burnham, state superintendent of education; Eric Clark, executive director of the Mississippi Community College Board;Charles McClelland, chair of the Mississippi Board of Education; and Robin Robinson, immediate past president of the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, represented the perspective of education leaders during the panel discussion. Blake Wilson, president of the Mississippi Economic Council, spoke from the business perspective.

A separate panel of state legislators was comprised of Mississippi State Senators Hob Bryan and Gray Tollison and Mississippi State Representative Kelvin Buck.

Observations that emerged from panelists' and attendees' contributions include:

  • NAEP is used as a trusted external benchmark by educators, legislators, and the business community. It serves as a truthful representation of how Mississippi students are performing now, how performance has changed over time, and how Mississippi's student achievement compares with other states.

  • NAEP is unbiased and un-political in nature. It provides credibility in communicating with parents, the business community and the greater population. Having a national, state-comparable measure is important to businesses considering locating in the state.

  • The NAEP 12th grade preparedness research will help identify areas to work on to prepare students to be successful in college and to be productive citizens after college.

  • NAEP as a measure of 12th grade preparedness can be useful, but to help ensure the reliability and validity of the results, it is important for NAEP to have meaning to the 12th grade students who take it.

  • The focus on 12th grade academic preparedness coming from the leadership of the country is what it's going to take to make us internationally competitive.

  • The NAEP research should treat preparedness for college and for job training with equal importance.

  • The NAEP research to identify the knowledge and skills needed to be academically prepared may help bridge the gap Mississippi research found suggesting that college professors view preparedness differently than high school and middle school teachers.

For a complete record of the morning's conversation, see the symposium transcript.


NAEP—the National Assessment of Educational Progress—is also known as The Nation's Report Card. Congressionally authorized and funded since 1969, NAEP reports to the public on the status and progress of student achievement in core subjects at grades 4, 8, and 12.

The National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees NAEP, is conducting a comprehensive program of research to transform NAEP into an indicator of 12th grade academic preparedness for college and job training.

NAEP is uniquely positioned to serve as this indicator because it is the only source of nationally representative student achievement data at the 12th grade.

The Governing Board's research program, now in its first phase, involves more than 30 planned studies. The purpose of the research is to identify the reading and mathematics skills and knowledge, as measured by NAEP, needed to qualify, without remediation, for first-year college courses or job training.

Research results so far are promising. A report on the first phase of the research program is expected in 2012.

An overview of the research program can be found here.

Summaries of completed research studies can be found here.

Biographies of all panelists and speakers who participated are provided below.

The Panelists

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