2019 Grade 4 Reading NAEP and state standards

Much ado about NAEP | @mcleod

Scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) are down after the pandemic. Shock!

Four significant ideas on all of this…

1. Under is the Facilities for Disease Regulate and Avoidance (CDC) graph of every day COVID circumstances in the U.S. Be aware the enormous spike in January 2022 because of to the Omicron variant. Also observe that the Nationwide Center for Schooling Studies (NCES) chose to administer the NAEP tests in March 2022, in the course of the downswing of that massive spike in cases and following two decades of COVID trauma (6 months later on America strike the 1 million useless mark). How numerous children, people, and educators were sick, recovering from being ill, or nevertheless traumatized from loved ones’ fatalities, illnesses, or extensive recoveries? We’ll under no circumstances know.


2. Often keep in mind that the labels for NAEP ‘proficiency’ degrees are baffling. Journalists (and other people) are failing us when they really do not report out what NAEP levels mean. For instance, the New York Instances documented this graph currently from NCES:

2022 10 24 NCES NAEP scores“Appalling,” correct?! That’s what the U.S. Secretary of Education and learning, Miguel Cardona, mentioned about these effects. Just seem at these minimal quantities in blue! 

BUT… ‘Proficient’ on NAEP does not mean what most folks think it does. NAEP by itself suggests that ‘Proficient’ does not imply ‘at quality amount.’ Instead, the label Proficient is extra aspirational. Indeed, it’s so aspirational that most states are not seeking to achieve that degree with their once-a-year assessments. See the map under from NCES (or make your own), which demonstrates that most states are making an attempt for their children to reach NAEP’s Basic amount, not Proficient:

2019 Grade 4 Reading NAEP and state standards

The moment yet again, in the phrases of Tom Loveless, previous director of the Brown Heart on Education Policy at the Brookings Establishment, “Proficient on NAEP does not indicate grade amount performance. It is significantly earlier mentioned that.” So primarily the New York Instances and some others are reporting that “only a person-fourth of 8th graders executed considerably previously mentioned grade level in math.” Does that consequence shock any person?

Loveless noted in 2016 that:

Equating NAEP proficiency with quality level is bogus. Without a doubt, the validity of the achievement degrees on their own is questionable. They immediately arrived underneath fire in opinions by the U.S. Govt Accountability Office environment, the Nationwide Academy of Sciences, and the Nationwide Academy of Education and learning. The Countrywide Academy of Sciences report was specially scathing, labeling NAEP’s accomplishment stages as “fundamentally flawed.”

Loveless also said:

The Countrywide Heart for Training Stats warns that federal law demands that NAEP achievement degrees be utilized on a trial foundation until the Commissioner of Training Data decides that the accomplishment concentrations are “reasonable, valid, and enlightening to the community.” As the NCES website states, “So far, no Commissioner has produced this sort of a resolve, and the accomplishment amounts remain in a trial standing. The achievement levels should really go on to be interpreted and utilized with warning.”


Confounding NAEP proficient with grade-level is uninformed. Designating NAEP proficient as the achievement benchmark for accountability programs is surely not cautious use. If large university college students are expected to satisfy NAEP proficient to graduate from substantial college, substantial quantities will are unsuccessful. If center and elementary school students are forced to repeat grades since they fall brief of a regular anchored to NAEP proficient, broad figures will repeat grades. [emphasis added]

In 2009, Gerald Bracey, just one of our nation’s foremost gurus on instructional evaluation, stated:

In its prescriptive part, the NAEP reviews the share of college students achieving numerous accomplishment levels—Basic, Proficient, and Advanced. The achievement levels have been roundly criticized by quite a few, which include the U.S. Authorities Accounting Business (1993), the Countrywide Academy of Sciences (Pellegrino, Jones, & Mitchell, 1999) and the Nationwide Academy of Education and learning (Shepard, 1993). These critiques position out that the approaches for developing the levels are flawed, that the ranges need unreasonably substantial functionality, and that they generate benefits that are not corroborated by other steps.


In spite of the criticisms, the U.S. Department of Education permitted the flawed levels to be used until finally one thing much better was made. Unfortunately, no a single has ever worked on acquiring anything better—perhaps because the seemingly very low college student efficiency indicated by the smaller share of exam-takers achieving Proficient has confirmed way too politically practical to school critics.


For instance, instruction reformers and politicians have lamented that only about a single-3rd of 8th graders examine at the Proficient level. On the area, this does appear terrible. Still, if college students in other nations took the NAEP, only about just one-3rd of them would also rating Proficient—even in the nations scoring maximum on international looking at comparisons (Rothstein, Jacobsen, & Wilder, 2006).

Similarly, James Harvey, govt director of the Countrywide Superintendents Roundtable (he also helped publish A Nation at Possibility), famous:

The NAEP benchmarks might be additional convincing if most pupils in other places could handily meet them. But that is a tough scenario to make, judging by a 2007 analysis from Gary Phillips, former performing commissioner of NCES. Phillips established out to map NAEP benchmarks on to worldwide assessments in science and mathematics.


Only Taipei and Singapore have a significantly better share of “proficient” college students in eighth quality science (by the NAEP benchmark) than the United States. In math, the average efficiency of eighth-grade students could be categorized as “proficient” in [only] 6 jurisdictions: Singapore, Korea, Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, and Flemish Belgium. It appears that when typical outcomes by jurisdiction spot typical students at the NAEP proficient stage, the jurisdictions involved are commonly wealthy.

We can argue no matter if the appropriate benchmark is Primary or we should be striving for Proficient, and we all can concur that a lot more kids need more guidance to access desired educational benchmarks. But let us really do not fake that ‘Proficient’ on NAEP aligns with most people’s popular understandings of that expression. We need to be especially cautious of these instructional ‘reformers’ who use the NAEP Proficient benchmark to cudgel faculties and educators.

3. Lest we think that these NAEP benefits are new and shocking, it ought to be pointed out that scores on NAEP presently were stagnant. Achievement gaps currently ended up widening. After approximately two many years of the No Youngster Still left Driving Act and standards-primarily based, tests-oriented instructional reform – and pretty much 40 years right after the A Nation at Risk report – the 2018 and 2019 NAEP results showed that the bifurcation of American university student overall performance remained “stubbornly broad.” We continue on to do the exact same matters while expecting diverse success, as an alternative of basically rethinking how we do college.

4. The pundits presently are chiming in on the 2022 NAEP final results. They’re blaming extremely-careful superintendents and faculty boards, “woke” educators, instructor unions, moms and dads, on-line learning, movie video games, social media, display screen habit, “kids these days who don’t want to get the job done,” condition governors, and everything else they can level a finger at. As I reported yesterday, it’s interesting how numerous persons had been prescient and omniscient in the course of unparalleled occasions, when particularly complicated choices essential to be made with very little historic assistance, in an setting of conflicting opinions about what was ideal. Irrespective of the large swirl of disagreement about what should have happened for the duration of the pandemic, quite a few folks are righteously particular that they have the suitable respond to and all people else is mistaken. The deficiency of grace, knowledge, and humility is staggering. 

Also, glimpse once more at the graph over. A person way for journalists, commentators, and policymakers to body those effects is to call them ‘appalling.’ One more way is to say:

Scores are down but, even all through a fatal world pandemic that shut down educational institutions and traumatized people, the math and studying achievement of about two-thirds of our pupils stayed at quality level or previously mentioned. How do we help the rest?

Generally think about how an situation is framed and whose passions it serves to body it that way (and why).

We can whirl ourselves into a tizzy of righteous finger-pointing, which is what several individuals will do simply because it serves their agenda to do so. Or we can

I assume that it is not likely that lots of states, universities, and communities will essentially do this for the reason that of the fragility and brittleness of our school buildings. But I’m quite absolutely sure that the path ahead is not just doubling down on much more math, reading, and tests, and it confident is not uncritically accepting NAEP results.

Your ideas?

2022 10 23 mcleod tweet

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