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

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November 18, 2011 Nashville Symposium Panelists

April 18, 2012
Tallahassee, FL

The NAEP 12th Grade Preparedness Commission hosted a symposium in Tallahassee, Florida, 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 fifth in the series and followed events in Boston, Jackson (MS)Nashville, 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 Florida 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.

Hon. Anitere Flores, Florida State Senator and member of the National Assessment Governing Board, and Cornelia 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.

Randy Hanna, chancellor of the Florida College System; R.E. LeMon, associate vice chancellor of the Florida Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida; and Pam Stewart, chancellor of Public Schools of the Florida Department of Education, represented the perspective of education leaders during the panel discussion. David Hart, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, represented the business perspective.Representative Erik Fresen and Senator David Simmonsspoke from the perspective of state legislators.

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

  • In Florida, education policies do not specify real consequences—or incentives—for student achievement after the 10th grade. Increased rigor of curriculum and expectations at grade 12, tied to consequences, could lead to increased academic preparedness.

  • Unpreparedness is a national problem of epidemic proportions that is under-diagnosed and underreported. Lack of academic preparedness is a profound problem, with real consequences for our nation's competitiveness.

  • NAEP has provided a very important independent, external measure that permits Florida to compare its student achievement with the nation and other states.

  • State NAEP at the 12th grade fills an important, otherwise unavailable, information need.

  • Florida business leaders hold a strong belief in measurement and accountability. The ability for businesses considering locating in a state such as Florida to look at NAEP scores to see how students compare to those in other states and countries, assess the talent supply, and answer the question "Can we compete?" is critical.

  • Without accurate data, it's difficult to make accurate decisions. Given that Florida now has a wealth of education data from NAEP and other assessments, it is incumbent upon policymakers to act on it and use the data to drive instruction. In particular, states like Florida can interpret NAEP data to learn from the successes of the highest-achieving states.

  • In addition to informing policymakers, NAEP can inform parents and the public so that they know "what they're getting" as students matriculate through the K-12 system.

  • Future preparedness research to consider should include: A comparison of NAEP to the Florida Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (PERT), studies looking back to performance at the 8th grade as well as the 10th and 12th grades, and a study of the alignment of NAEP and the Common Core State Standards and Assessments.

  • Consider conducting research on preparedness and 12th grade writing.

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

To read The Florida Current's coverage of the event, download this PDF.


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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