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The Nation’s Report Card: Economics 2012

April 2013

Author: National Center for Education Statistics

Download The Nation’s Report Card: Economics 2012 PDF File (3.8 MB)


Cover image of The Nation's Report Card: Economics 2012 report.Executive Summary

Economic literacy is vital for functioning effectively in today’s society. Consumers need to manage their finances, investors need to plan for their future, and voters need to choose among competing economic plans. As students move on to college or enter the workforce, their understanding of the economy will help them become financially responsible citizens. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) monitors students’ attainment of these skills and knowledge with its twelfth-grade economics assessment.

First administered in 2006, the NAEP economics assessment measures twelfth-graders’ understanding of a wide range of topics in three main content areas: market economy, national economy, and international economy. This report provides results of the economics assessment in 2012 based on a nationally representative sample of nearly 11,000 twelfth-graders. Results from 2012 are compared with those from 2006 to investigate whether our nation’s high school seniors are becoming increasingly literate in economics.

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Key Findings

Economics scores increased for some lower performing student groups, even though the overall average score for twelfth-graders did not change significantly. Compared to 2006:

  • Hispanic students scored higher, and a larger percentage performed at or above Basic.
  • Students with parents who did not finish high school scored higher.
  • Lower performing students made gains.

Larger percentage of students at or above the Basic level than in 2006

The only shift that occurred in economics achievement-level results between 2006 and 2012 appeared in the lower performance range. The percentage of twelfth-graders performing at or above Basic (which includes Proficient and Advanced) increased from 79 percent in 2006 to 82 percent in 2012. The percentages of students at or above Proficient and at Advanced, however, did not change significantly.

Average scores and achievement-level results in twelfth-grade NAEP economics: 2006 and 2012

Image of a graphic showing In 2006, average score = 150. 21 (significant) Below Basic, 38 At Basic, 39 At Proficient, and 3 At Advances; In 2012 average score = 152, 18 Below Basic, 39 At Basic, 40 At Proficient, and 3 At Advanced.

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2012.
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2006 and 2012 Economics Assessments.

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Examples of Knowledge and Skills Demonstrated by Students Performing at Each Achievement Level

Basic

  • Identify a trait of a market economy.
  • Recognize an action of government that protects property rights.

Proficient

  • Recognize the consumer price index as a measure of inflation.
  • Provide a complete analysis of how competition by entrepreneurs creates innovation and economic growth.

Advanced

  • Identify how a change in the value of a currency affects imports and exports.
  • Calculate the real interest rate given the current interest rate and the rate of inflation.

 

Majority of students say that coursework helps them understand economics-related topics

Students were asked if they thought that economics-related courses helped them understand various economics topics. Over two-thirds of twelfth-graders agreed that their coursework did help them. They were also more likely to agree that courses helped them understand the U.S. economy, current events and public policy, and personal finances in 2012 than in 2006.

Percentage of students assessed in twelfth-grade NAEP economics who agreed that economics-related courses taken from ninth through twelfth grade helped them understand various topics: 2006 and 2012

Image of a bar chart showing percentage of students that agree economic-related courses help them understand various topic. For U.S. economy, the percentage in 2006 = 84, significantly different from 2012, in 2012 = 86. For International economy, the percentage in 2006 = 69, in 2012 = 71. For Current events and public policy, the percentage in 2006 = 79, significantly different from 2012, in 2012 = 81. For Personal finances, the percentage in 2006 = 68, significantly different from 2012, in 2012 = 71.

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2012.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2006 and 2012 Economics Assessments.

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Download The Nation’s Report Card: Economics 2012 PDF File (3.8 MB)

NCES 2013-453  Ordering information

Suggested Citation
National Center for Education Statistics (2013). The Nation’s Report Card: Economics 2012 (NCES 2013-453). Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.

For more information, see the results of the Economics report on the Nation's Report Card website.

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Last updated 19 April 2013 (RH)
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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
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