Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

Author of Essay on NAEP Responds to Criticism

January 17, 2012 1 min read

To the Editor:

I was pleased to see that the Dec. 14, 2011, issue contained a response by Cornelia Orr, a noted assessment expert who serves as the executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board, to my earlier Commentary (“NAEP’s Odd Definition of Proficiency,” October 26, 2011).

Ms. Orr properly corrects me for wrongly identifying a NAGB staff member as a board member. However, the remainder of her letter offers only a weak rebuttal of my main criticisms: NAGB uses the term “proficient” in a way that makes common understanding of the term meaningless. Congress insists that the National Assessment of Educational Progress benchmarks be interpreted with caution and used on a trial basis. NAGB has long needed to externally validate its benchmarks, a point which Ms. Orr essentially concedes.

I am pleased to see that NAEP has planned or mounted 30 studies to address the most recent criticisms.

Ms. Orr claims that I “specifically” said the “proficient level is set too high.” I did not say that. She argues that I’m in favor of lowering standards. On the contrary, as a significant contributor to “A Nation at Risk,” I have long supported the highest educational standards.

My criticism is that, according to NAGB’s own experts, students whom most people would consider proficient in a subject often fail to meet NAEP’s definition of proficiency. I worry also that NAEP’s contractors run the risk of comparing apples with oranges when they compare the achievement distribution of students in American schools (which enroll all low-income students and all students with disabilities) with achievement distributions in Asian nations and cities (which frequently exclude both demographics).

James J. Harvey

Executive Director

National Superintendents Roundtable

Seattle, Wash.

A version of this article appeared in the January 18, 2012 edition of Education Week as Author of Essay on NAEP Responds to Criticism

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

7796 - Director of EAL (K-12) - August '21
Dubai, UAE
GEMS Education
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read