Sunday, October 23, 2022

Your All-Purpose NAEP News Release

It's time once again to greet the release of another set of data from the NAEP testing machine, which means everyone is warming up their Hot Take generator. But if, like me, you're getting tired of writing a response to the latest NAEPery, here's a handy news release that will let you mad lib your way to NAEPy wisdom.

The new scores from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), known as The Nation's Report Card, have been released, providing important data about [insert your preferred education policy area]. The recent crisis in [select your favorite policy-adjacent crisis] has clearly created a burgeoning issue of [select whatever Bad Thing you feel will most scare your audience in the direction of your preferred policy]. 

Says [head of your organization], "The new scores provide important evidence that now is the time for [insert whatever policy action your group always supports]. Clearly the [rise/drop/stagnation] in scores among [whichever subgroup cherry picking best suits your point] proves exactly what we have been arguing for [however long you've been at this.]"

[Insert paragraph of data carefully selected and crunched for your purposes. Add a graph if you like. People really dig graphs.]

"This is a clear indication," says [your favorite go-to education expert], "that it is long past time to [do that thing your organization has been trying to get people to do for years]. Clearly [our preferred solution] is needed." [Insert further sales pitch here as needed.]

You can expand on this if you wish, but make sure that you definitely do not--

* provide context for the data that you include

* ever explain that "proficient" on NAEP represents well above grade level; just go with the assumption that it means "adequate" or "on grade level"

* offer perspective from NAEP's many critics

* absolutely never ever reference the fact that the NAEP folks are extraordinarily clear that folks should not try to suggest a causal relationship between scores and anything else.

As always, the main lesson of NAEP is that contrary to the expectations of so many policy wonks, cold hard data does not actually solve a thing.

The NAEP remains a data-rich Rorschach test that tells us far more about the people interpreting the data than it does about the people from whom the data was collected. Button up your overcoat, prepare for greater-than-usual pearl-clutching and solution-pitching from all the folks who still think the pandemic shutdown is a great opportunity to do [whatever it is they have already been trying to do]. 


  1. “I want to be very clear: The results in today’s nation’s report card are appalling and unacceptable,” said Miguel Cardona, the secretary of education. “This is a moment of truth for education. How we respond to this will determine not only our recovery, but our nation’s standing in the world.”
    NYT 10.24.22

  2. Apparently the NYT was unable to include this important disclosure taken directly from the NEAP website in less than two minutes:

    "Students performing at or above the NAEP Proficient level on NAEP assessments demonstrate solid academic performance and competency over challenging subject matter. It should be noted that the NAEP Proficient achievement level does not represent grade level proficiency as determined by other assessment standards (e.g., state or district assessments)."

    Here's a quick MC item for the NYT education reporters:

    8th grade math students performing at the
    NEAP __ achievement level can likely:

    Reason and determine measurements, including length, area, and volume, with descriptions, labeled diagrams, and units provided
    apply proportional reasoning to solve problems in context using scale factor, distance, unit conversion and quantities
    apply simple scale factor value to find unknown lengths of triangles and rectangles without setting up a proportion

    Find a missing angle in a triangle given two angles and understand that angles of a triangle add to 180 degrees recognize quadrilaterals given a description of their shared attributes

    Interpret, create, and/or compare different data set representations to determine a specific set of values for mean, mode, and range while identifying errors and appropriateness

    Use a coordinate plane to identify and plot coordinate points precisely find the distance between points recognize and extend patterns within an arithmetic or geometric sequence of numbers in a list or table (arithmetic, geometric) to solve problems in context
    identify, solve, and/or evaluate one- and two-step equations, and apply slope, given linear relationships

    a) Basic
    b) Proficient
    c) Advanced

    It's also important to note that NEAP tests being used to assess 8th grade math achievement were administered at around the half-way mark (J, F, M) of the 8th grade school year.

    Take a look:

  3. Clutching pearls in MD! Scores down across the board....OH MY! Predicting the future on these issues is your forte.