The popular media portrays the nation’s teenagers as buckled under by homework. Are middle and high school students being asked to work too hard? One way to find out is to ask the students themselves. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP) does that every two years, and the Center for American Progress (note to Peter: CAP is not a right-wing think tank) has taken a look at the data. Here are two key findings:
Many schools are not challenging students and large percentages of students report that their school work is “too easy.” If students are going to succeed in the competitive global economy, they need to be exposed to a rigorous curriculum. But many students believe their class work is too easy. Twenty-nine percent of eighth-grade math students nationwide, for instance, report that their math work is often or always too easy. In some states like Virginia, nearly a third of middle-school students reported their work was often or always too easy.
Many students are not engaged in rigorous learning activities. Almost a third of eighth-grade students report reading fewer than five pages a day either in school or for homework. That’s below what many experts recommend for students in middle school. Eighth-grade students across the country also report that they rarely write lengthy answers to reading questions on tests: approximately one-third of students write long answers on reading tests twice per year or less.
Fourth grade Virginia students were far more likely than the national average to report that math work was often or always “too easy,” although 8th grade students were close to the national average.