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90% of parents think their children are at or above grade level
Mass delusion stalks parent ranks, critics say, with national test scores showing that fewer than half of students are actually performing at grade level. - photo by Eric Schulzke
Nearly all American parents think their children are on track with their grade level, even though over half of children are behind their grade standards, according to national test scores.

"There is this cognitive dissonance happening," Bibb Hubbard, who founded the new nonprofit organization, Learning Heroes, told National Public Radio. "We've got to find good, productive ways to educate and inform parents.

"Kids are getting passed on from grade to grade, a large percentage of kids graduate high school on time," Hubbard said. "So certainly parents have been getting the message for a long time that their kids are doing just fine."

Funded by major philanthropies, Learning Heroes offers a website that helps parents understand the new Common Core standards and the related tests, along with tools to help their children catch up.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, known informally as the "nation's report card, "are based on representative samples of students at grades 4, 8, and 12 for the main assessments, or samples of students at ages 9, 13, or 17 years for the long-term trend assessment," the NAEP website states. "These grades and ages were chosen because they represent critical junctures in academic achievement."

When the latest NAEP results were released last fall, the results were disappointing, showing a market drop in both reading and math, after years of incremental progress.

Those scores showed, for example, that just 40 percent of fourth-graders and 33 percent of eighth-graders scored proficient or higher on math. The corresponding scores for reading were 36 and 34 percent.

"Achievement gaps along socioeconomic and ethnic lines remain a vexing problem in the new scores," the Deseret News National reported when the new NAEP scores were released last fall. "In 8th grade math, for example, Asian students continued to excel at 61 percent proficient. White students struggled to keep up at 43 percent, with Hispanics, at 19 percent, and African-Americans at 13 lagging far behind."

Education experts were stunned that both math and English scores had dropped in the most recent round, though there was uncertainty as to why. Some suspected a disconnect between new curriculum and the subject matter being taught, for example.

Parents should "build deeper relationships and ask tougher questions of [their] student's teachers," Hubbard suggests. "Instead of the teacher just saying, 'He's a great kid,' ask, 'Is he reading on grade level?'"
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