Wednesday, May 23, 2012

When we all do well on the NAEP ...

1. Teach to the test: set aside well-thought out, child-centered activities to have students memorize possible NAEP content AND to have students practice taking standardized tests.
2. Test to the test: set aside well-thought out, child-centered activities to have students take standardized tests like the NAEP  periodically (e.g. monthly, quarterly) throughout the year.  These "intermittent tests", like NWEA or Scantron or MAPS to name a few, report to have a statistical predictive correlation with how students will perform on the "big ones".
(In addition, the "intermittent tests" can be used for what we call a "universal screener" to monitor progress. I know that prior to the testing explosion, GOOD TEACHERS WORKING TOGETHER WITH KIDS AND PARENTS were monitoring progress, but ...
Apparently, we have decided that if we are not doing well on the NAEP, we are failing.  So, when we all do well on the NAEP, where will we be?
1.  Testing companies profits will soar.
2.  Kids will be adept at filling in bubbles, "thinking INSIDE the box".
3.  More kids, and parents, will be disillusioned and disenfranchised with the schools.
4.  Higher Order Thinking Skills will have been replaced by teaching, and testing, to the test.  Same with the arts and subject areas not tested.
5.  The curriculum at your local school will have been dumbed down for success on standardized tests.
6.  We will not be happy with where our kids are, what they are able to do, and the schools will be blamed.
If our goal is success on the NAEP, why not look at what it will be like when we have achieved that goal BEFORE we commit to it?
I have not discussed the construction, administration, scoring, and disemination of the NAEP.  Go to your local school and find out about the NAEP.  Ask:
1.  Who administers the NAEP?
2.  What is on the NAEP?
3.  Who scores the NAEP?
4.  How did your school do the last time you gave the NAEP?
5.  What was done with your school's NAEP results?
6.  How did you, the local school, use the NAEP results to benefit the students who took it?  Change curriculum?  Change instruction?  Provide follow-up diagnostics and services to individual students based on the results?
You will be shocked.  The NAEP is educational malpractice.


  1. Ack. Mark, I'm NO apologist for NAEP, but have YOU really found out about NAEP and how it works? The NAEP uses a VERY sophisticated sampling framework such that only some kids in some schools are actually involved. And, any student who is part of the NAEP sample only takes a part of the overall NAEP assessment; ho kid takes a full test. It's not designed to provide scores at the individual or school-level. Therefore, there's no such thing as a school-level (or student-level) NAEP score. And, there's no way to use it diagnostically or formatively.

    1. Yes, I have. We were required to give it in our schools. A waste of time. How many things are we going to put in classrooms in the name of sophistication, motivated from external authority, minimizing teacher expertise (if not disrespectful of), and not focused on what is best for kids?
      A classroom is very sophisticated. Insertion of irrelevant, time consuming, condescending, non-beneficial, invalid , unreliable instruments is part of the problem, and not "research-based best practice" .