It’s that wonderful time of year. If that sounds like phrasing associated with a holiday, well…for followers of education policy, it sort of is.
Tomorrow the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results will be released by the Department of Education. NAEP is a big deal for a couple of reasons: it’s widely considered the “gold standard” of standardized assessments and it’s the only assessment administered nationally (every two years) in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia.
In the coming days and weeks, there will be plenty of time for pontificating on the results themselves and what they mean, and we’ll try to contribute to the dialogue here as well. But before you dive into the results, it’s important to do some pre-reading. So we thought it would be helpful to round up some of the better sources of information to guide your thinking on interpreting this year’s NAEP scores.
The first thing to be sure of is that you know the meaning of “misNAEPery” and how not to engage in it. MisNAEPery is the misuse of NAEP data to draw conclusions about what is happening with respect to student achievement and why. It’s the “why” part of the misuse that drives researchers mad. As a past offender, I’ll admit it’s tough to avoid misNAEPery because we want to understand what’s happening in education, and NAEP can be a useful and powerful tool. But like any power tool, it’s important to learn how to use it safely.
After you’ve studied up on the use of NAEP results, there are a couple of other background readings that will help you understand what has happened in the world of NAEP scores over the past decade.
Overall NAEP scores since 2003? They’re up.
And a report released just this week finds that while NAEP results have increased more than should be expected given demographic shifts during that same period, the results for similar students vary widely across states.
Finally, since we’re now solidly in the Common Core-era, it makes sense to examine the alignment between Common Core standards and the questions asked on the NAEP exam. Another new study tackles this issue and finds that although there is reasonable overlap when it comes to mathematics, the NAEP exam may be due for an update to better reflect what we expect kids to be learning in the classroom.