Vocabulary is vital to learning in every subject, studies show. To get a more accurate view of U.S. students’ vocabulary, the National Center for Education Statistics adapted its vocabulary and reading comprehension assessment in 2009. The second round of results shows U.S. students have only a mediocre vocabulary.
Vocabulary is central to reading, said Angela Glymph, an associate research scientist at NCES. The new test asked students to understand words in passages rather than to match them to definitions.
Although overall average vocabulary scores for fourth- and eighth-grade students changed little between 2009 and 2011, Glymph noted some convergence of scores.
Higher-performing students in both fourth and eighth grade scored lower in 2011 than in 2009.