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Interactive Map: How Much Are Students Learning?

Many Kids Across the Country Say Their Classwork Is Too Easy

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See also: Do Schools Challenge Our Students? by Ulrich Boser and Lindsay Rosenthal

Download selected student survey results for states (pdf)

You might think the nation’s teenagers are drowning in school work. Images of students buried in textbooks often grace the covers of popular parenting magazines, while suburban teenagers complain about the length of their homework assignments.

But when we recently examined a federal survey of students in public schools around the country, we found the opposite—many students said they were not being challenged. Consider, for instance, that 37 percent of fourth graders say 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.

To obtain this data, we examined the background surveys of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Known as the Nation’s Report Card, the assessments are administered every two years by the National Center for Education Statistics. We looked specifically at the student questionnaire, which collects student-reported information on demographics and classroom experiences.

These findings come at a key time. Researchers increasingly believe that student surveys can provide important insights into a teacher’s effectiveness. The key results from the surveys are broken down by state in the interactive map below, and we hope that this series of interactives, as well as our accompanying report, will inspire more research into the role of student surveys and will increase attention on the need to improve our nation’s education system.

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