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ERIC Number: ED558150
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Feb-26
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
What NAEP Once Was, and What NAEP Could Once Again Be
Jacobsen, Rebecca; Rothstein, Richard
Economic Policy Institute
In this commentary the authors open with the assertion that contemporary education policy, whatever else it may or may not have accomplished, has narrowed the school curriculum by holding schools accountable primarily for their student scores in math and reading. They pursue this argument by pointing out that in surveys, the American public, school administrators, school board members, and state legislators all insist that they want schools to pursue multiple goals. Basic academic skills are important, but so are critical thinking, the arts, preparation for skilled work, social skills and a work ethic, good citizenship, and physical and emotional health. Yet schools suffer no sanctions for ignoring all other goals, provided math and reading scores improve. The authors point toward the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), saying that today's NAEP has contributed to this distortion by its highly publicized biennial release of national and state-level results in math and reading alone. The authors believe that it is because of NAEP's focus and influence, that there exists little sense of how American schools perform in any other areas. They argue that for a public education system which spends more than half a trillion of public dollars annually, this is an inexcusable situation, however, it was not always thus, and it need not be thus in the future. A description is provided of NAEP, which was first designed in the 1960s by a team led by Francis Keppel, John Gardner, and Ralph Tyler. It was Tyler who proposed educators should assess the behavioral outcomes of education, since it is the goal of education to help the student grow in those areas as well as math and reading. Early NAEP assessed attitudes, social responsibility, ability to consider alternative viewpoints, and was more comprehensive in what it covered and whom it covered. The first assessment in 1960 focused on knowledge retention, as well as educational outcomes. Since then, NAEP has moved toward easily quantifiable basic skills, and the authors fear that NAEP's present more narrow coverage may have distorted impact on modern schools. The authors suggest reconsideration of the work of John Gardner and his design committee and of NAEP's experiences during its first decade. They agree that it is those experiences which illustrate how assessment could be used as part of a balanced accountability system for education, a system upon which the public could rely and where attention to improvement should be directed. [This work was presented at the National Assessment Governing Board's 25th Anniversary Celebration, Feb 26, 2014, in Washington, D.C.]
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Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Evaluative; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Economic Policy Institute
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: National Assessment of Educational Progress