Trends of Academic Achievement and Educational Environment
This chapter addresses the questions of achievement trends in terms of excellence. How did academic growth trajectories change over the past four decades? What changes in environmental factors influenced these trends? Analysis of cross-cohort achievement trends reveals a tripartite pattern in which American students are gaining ground at the pre-/early primary school level, holding ground at the middle school level, and losing ground at the high school level. The problem of underachievement is evident in discrepancies between the flat National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) achievement trend and the upward IQ score trend. The analysis of educational environment trends over the same period shows mixed progress, but the expected academic growth potential was not realized. Academic gains induced by positive changes in some areas have been offset by negative changes or status quo in other areas (e.g., family support, school climate, teacher quality and standards for student performance).
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