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The Nation's Report Card: 12th-Grade Reading and Mathematics 2005

February 2007

Authors: Wendy Grigg, Patricia Donahue, and Gloria Dion

Download sections of the report (or the complete report) in a PDF file for viewing and printing.


Image of the NAEP Grade 12 report card cover

Executive Summary

Reading performance declines for all but top performers

Less than one-quarter perform at or above Proficient in mathematics

In 2005, a representative sample of over 21,000 high school seniors from 900 schools across the country was assessed in reading and mathematics. This report presents the national results from the 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2005 reading assessments and from the 2005 mathematics assessment. It also includes sample questions to illustrate the types of skills and knowledge that were assessed in each subject.

Reading performance declines for all but top performers

In 2005, the average reading score for high school seniors was 286 on a 0–500 scale. This overall average was lower than in 1992, although it was not significantly different from the score in 2002. With the exception of the score for students performing at the 90th percentile, declines were seen across most of the performance distribution in 2005 as compared to 1992.

Retrieving information from a highly detailed document is an example of the knowledge and skills demonstrated by students performing at the Basic level. Making a critical judgment about a detailed document and explaining their reasoning is an example of the knowledge and skills associated with students' performance at the Proficient level.

  • The percentage of students performing at or above Basic decreased from 80 percent in 1992 to 73 percent in 2005, and the percentage of students performing at or above the Proficient level decreased from 40 to 35 percent.
  • White and Black students were the only racial/ethnic groups to show a statistically significant change in reading performance, scoring lower in 2005 than in 1992.
  • The score gaps between White and Black students and White and Hispanic students were relatively unchanged since 1992.
  • Both male and female students’ scores declined in comparison to 1992, and the performance gap between the genders widened with female students outscoring male students.

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Less than one-quarter perform at or above Proficient in mathematics

The 2005 mathematics assessment is based on a new framework. The assessment includes more questions on algebra, data analysis, and probability to reflect changes in high school mathematics standards and coursework. Even though many questions were repeated, results could not be placed on the old NAEP scale and could not be directly compared to previous years. The 12th-grade average in 2005 was set at 150 on a 0–300 point scale.

Demonstrating the ability to use the Pythagorean Theorem to determine the length of a hypotenuse is an example of the skills and knowledge associated with performance at the Basic level. An example of the knowledge and skills associated with the Proficient level is using trigonometric ratios to determine length.

  • Sixty-one percent of high school seniors performed at or above the Basic level, and 23 percent performed at or above Proficient.
  • Asian/Pacific Islander students scored higher than students from other racial/ethnic groups, and White students scored higher than their Black and Hispanic counterparts.
  • Male students scored higher on average than female students overall and in the “number properties and operations” and “measurement and geometry” content areas.

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Download sections of the report (or the complete report) in a PDF file for viewing and printing:

NCES 2007-468 Ordering information

Suggested Citation
Grigg, W., Donahue, P., and Dion, G. (2007). The Nation’s Report Card: 12th-Grade Reading and Mathematics 2005 (NCES 2007-468). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

For more information, see the results of the 2005 12th-Grade Reading and Mathematics on the Nation's Report Card website.

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Last updated 20 September 2007 (RH)

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education