High school seniors show little improvement on economic issues

Despite the Great Recession of 2008 — which focused the nation’s attention on the economy — high school seniors on average showed no significant improvement in their understanding of economic issues between 2006 and 2012, according to new testing data released Wednesday by the federal government.

In 2012, about 10,900 12th-grade students in 480 public and private schools took the economics exam as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the “nation’s report card.” Their scores were compared with those from 2006, the first year that economics was tested as part of NAEP.

The exam was designed to test knowledge and understanding of markets and national and international economies.

While overall achievement was flat, federal officials saw gains in scores of Hispanic high school seniors and students performing at the lowest levels. The average score for Hispanic students on the 300-point test rose from 133 in 2006 to 138 in 2012. The average score for students in the lowest-scoring group rose from 104 to 109.

There was a persistent gender gap in performance, with boys consistently scoring higher than girls. And students attending private high schools consistently outscored those attending public schools.

In 2012, students reported getting more of their information about the economy from the Internet and less from newspapers and magazines than they did in 2006.

Lyndsey Layton has been covering national education since 2011, writing about everything from parent trigger laws to poverty’s impact on education to the shifting politics of school reform.

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