US college readiness scores are down according to the standardized test known as the Nation's Report Card. The latest results of the test known as the Nation's Report Card are in. They cover high school seniors, who took the test in math and reading last year. The numbers are unlikely to give fodder either to educational cheerleaders or alarmists: The average score in both subjects was just one point lower in 2015 compared with the last time the test was given, in 2013. This tiny downtick was statistically significant in mathematics, but not for the reading test.

But even though the changes are small, chances are you're going to be hearing about them in a lot of places.

Why is this test so widely reported on, widely cited and widely debated? And how does it line up with common-sense yardsticks of how students are doing? Let's take a closer look.

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