WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.) released the following statement after the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) at the Department of Education released the results of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the "Nation's Report Card":
"The release of the 2017 ‘Nation’s Report Card’ shows the stark reality that we are failing to prepare our children to live prosperous lives and ultimately pushing the American Dream out of reach. This report is not an indictment on the teachers and administrators who work passionately to serve our students, but ultimately highlights the failures of a system of bureaucratic mandates and one-size-fits-all policies that prioritize meeting arbitrary standards rather than what is best for each student.
"That is why I introduced the A-PLUS Act to empower parents, teachers and local administrators to better address the needs of students and schools in their communities. With government’s education approach for the last five decades falling well below even the most reasonable expectations, it’s time to choose a better path."
According to the NCES, the NAEP is "the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas."
From the last NAEP assessment in 2015, scores largely remained stagnant or declined with:
- Only 37 percent of 4th graders and 36 percent of 8th graders scoring proficient or above in reading.
- Only 40 percent of 4th graders and 34 percent of 8th graders scoring proficient or above in math.
"The 2015 National Assessment of Education Progress represented the first time math and reading scores had declined or remained stagnant since the test was first administered in 1990," wrote Lindsey Burke, Will Skillman fellow in education policy at The Heritage Foundation. "Further declines and an overall stagnation in 2017 suggest a trend—namely, scores are going in the wrong direction."
"Historically, federal education spending has been appropriated to close gaps, yet this spending — more than $2 trillion in inflation-adjusted spending at the federal level alone since 1965 — has utterly failed to achieve that goal," Burke added. "Increasing federal intervention over the past half-century, and the resulting burden of complying with federal programs, rules, and regulations, have created a parasitic relationship with federal education programs and states, and is straining the time and resources of local schools."
To address these issues and inject flexibility into the federal education model, Walker introduced H.R. 719, the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act (A-PLUS) Act. The A-PLUS Act would empower parents, teachers and local administrators to better address the needs of students and schools in their communities.
The community-focused approach of the A-PLUS Act prioritizes restoring state and local control of education by giving them the option to decline participation in the prescriptive and onerous requirements of federal education programs and focus that funding on solutions that meet the needs of their students and their neighborhoods.
This legislation will help lessen the compliance burdens at schools, allowing them to focus on reducing administrative staff, hiring more teachers and focus on educating our next generation of leaders. Instead of teachers following strict guidelines and being forced to educate every student the same way, they will be free to be creative in addressing the unique talents and abilities of each child. All while keeping every dollar of their federal funding.
The NAEP assessment is clear. Our education system is failing our students. Walker's A-PLUS Act can help flip the current top-down model and give students better access to a quality education.