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School is too easy, students say

Students have spoken, and they’re saying something surprising: School is too easy. An analysis of NAEP student surveys by the Center for American Progress found that, contrary to the popular lore that students are overworked and over-challenged, many students feel they are not given rigorous enough work.

In their review of the data, the authors found that nationally 37 percent of fourth-graders say that their math work is too easy. More than a third of high-school seniors report that they hardly ever write about what they read in class, and 72 percent of eighth-grade science students say they aren’t being taught engineering and technology. Only half of 12th-grade math students said they feel like they are always or almost always learning in their math class.

What’s also important to note is which students say they’re learning. Higher-income students are much more likely to report that they understand what their teacher is saying in class. For instance, 74 percent of higher-income fourth-grade students report that they often or always understand what their science teacher is saying, compared with just 56 percent of lower-income fourth-grade students. This gap slowly closes as students progress in grade level, but remains through 12th grade, with 66 percent of higher-income 12th-graders reporting they often or always understand what their math teacher is saying, compared with 60 percent of low-income students.

The report also includes an interactive map to compare different data points in different states. Washington’s students are near the national average for almost all measures. Of all of Washington’s eighth grade students:

  • 72 percent say they are not taught about engineering and technology,
  • 58 percent say they always or almost always feel they are learning in math class,
  • 28 percent say they read fewer than 5 pages a day,

Of all of Washington’s fourth grade students:

  • 34 percent say their math work is too easy
  • 36 percent say they sometimes or hardly ever understand what their teacher says

You can read the full report here and view the interactive map of data here.

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