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NAS Report Evaluates Assessment Measures in the Nationís Report Card
The Nation’s Report Card is an important way to measure student progress and achievement in the U.S. and informs educators, policymakers, and the general public of students’ understanding and mastery of academic skills. The new National Academy of Sciences’ report also investigated the value of achievement level descriptors for policy makers, educators, and interested citizens.
“By measuring students’ abilities in subjects at various points in their education, these assessments allow educators and policymakers to compare progress and performance across states and age groups. These comparisons are central to decisions about curriculum and instruction in both reading and math. This is why it’s essential that the measurement criteria are useful,” Dr. Afflerbach said.
The Nation’s Report Card first began in 1969 and is used to assess performance on subjects by testing representative samples of students. The way the assessment measures achievement has evolved over the years, moving from simply evaluating performance on a number scale to the inclusion of achievement levels in 1992, which marked students’ performance in a subject as Basic, Proficient, or Advanced based on their score on a numbered scale.
In the report, the committee reviewed and evaluated the history and process of setting the NAEP achievement levels, along with their reliability, validity, interpretations and uses. They also discussed considerations in setting new standards for the Nation’s Report Card.
In many ways, the NAEP for math and reading is aligned with standard practices and the NAS committee did not recommend changes. Yet, the report findings included:
The NAS committee made several other recommendations, which included a call for regular reviews of the ALDs, research on the relationship between NAEP performance and performance on other measures, such as college readiness, and research on the intended and actual interpretations of the NAEP outcomes by various audiences.
Peter Afflerbach, a member of the NAS committee that conducted this report, is a faculty member in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership; his research focuses on reading assessment, individual differences in reading, reading comprehension and other aspects of literacy education.
For more information on the College of Education, visit: www.education.umd.edu