Education Chat

NAEP Results Raise Questions About NCLB's Effectiveness

Guests Grover J. Whitehurst, Jack Jennings, and Kathleen Kennedy Manzo took questions on how educators and policymakers should interpret the recent NAEP reading and math achievement test results.

NAEP Results Raise Questions About NCLB’s Effectiveness

About the Guests:

Oct. 26, 2005

Grover J. Whitehurst, director of the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education;

Jack Jennings, president and chief executive officer of the Center on Education Policy; and

Kathleen Kennedy Manzo, an associate editor at Education Week.

Kevin Bushweller (Moderator):
Welcome to today’s online chat about how educators and policymakers should interpret the recent NAEP reading and math achievement test results. Those results are generating quite a buzz in education circles, as friends and foes of the No Child Left Behind Act question the federal education law’s effectiveness. Reading achievement has remained essentially flat over the past two years, while gains in math have slowed.

How should educators and policymakers interpret the results? And what do the scores say about the effectiveness of NCLB?

Let’s get the discussion started ...

Question from Valerie Tundo, Middle SchoolScience Teacher, Hoover Middle School:
Have the 24 or more days dedicated to practice and State testing each year taken valuable class time away from student learning and instruction? Should there instead be one national test administered for each grade that would meet the NCLB requirements, test for minimum competency in all core areas and would be more valid for comparative studies?

Jack Jennings:
You are asking two questions. To the first about whether practice and state testing are taking time away from learning and instruction, this would depend on the type of test the states uses and on whether the standards behind the test are being properly integrated into classroom teaching. This means that a state has to have good academic standards which are not too broad, the state has to help teachers to make the connection between the standards and what they teach on a daily basis, and the state has to provide prompt clear results back to the teachers so that they can understand how well individual students are doing. If these and similar conditons exist, then the teacher would be using time to provide good instruction and the student would learn--and do well on the state test. Unfortunately, this is not happening now in many situations. With regard to your second question, federal law forbids a national test, and so that hurtle would have to be overcome before this idea could be implemented.

Question from Bob Frangione, Graduate student in Education:
With such modest gains and even some declines in achievement, how can any sort of spin project the latest NAEP results as proof of the effectiveness of NCLB?

Grover J. Whitehurst:
Using NAEP results to evaluate the effectiveness of NCLB is problematic, especially in the short run. NAEP isn’t designed to test cause and effect. Suppose, for example that NAEP scores had fallen across the board since 2003, which they did not. Would that mean that NCLB was responsible? Not necessarily, because scores might have been down even more without NCLB. In fact there are secular trends such as the increasing diversity of the student population and the proportion of students from homes in which English isn’t the native language that would tend to depress scores. Suppose that scores had gone through the roof since 2003. Could that be attributed to NCLB? Again, not necessarily. NCLB isn’t the only source of change in policy for the nation’s students. States and school districts are in the middle of a uniquely active period of innovation and investment in k-12 education. So even if NCLB had no effects, scores could go up. What we can conclude from NAEP is that scores are up since the last assessment in math at both grades and in reading at grade 4, but that too many children continue to perform at levels that are unacceptably low. This is a clear challenge to educators and policy-makers for the years ahead.

Question from Barb McWethy, Literacy Specialist, Kalamazoo County Head Start:
Do you feel that school districts are spending more time worrying about the rules and regulations of NCLB that they are losing focus on the needs of the children, thus not showing improvement in reading and math (and other areas too, I’m guessing)?

Kathleen Kennedy Manzo:
There are any number of theories about why students aren’t showing more improvement in reading, given the inordinate resources directed toward reading instruction, at least at the elementary level. Many educators are concerned that federal and state reading policies have gotten so specific and restrictive, causing school districts to spend so much time and energy trying to decipher the requirements, as well as attend to the vast testing and reporting mandates, that some of the focus on students and their individual needs (and their motivation and engagement in reading) has been pushed to the sidelines. Most teachers, however, tend to focus on what’s happening in their own classrooms, not on the bureacratic tasks occuring at the district office.

Question from John Shacter, consultant and educator, Kingston, TN:
I have taught students basic math and effective reasoning and communications for years -- mostly from 3rd grade up. The youngsters are very smart and quite interested -- however, so far, inadequately taught. How do we expect to achieve gains without developing effective teachers? Too many teacher colleges are failing us. Again, how do we propose to develop effective practicing and new teachers?

Jack Jennings:
Good question! In the U.S. teaching is not the honored profession it should be. We have to start by paying teachers more, and then find a way to reward teachers for greater effectiveness. We also must provide proper working conditions for teachers, and find ways that they have time to prepare for classwork. U.S.elementary teachers spend more time in front of the classroom than do teachers in other industrialized countries and therefore they do not have time to properly prepare and think through their lesson plans. I like the idea of hiring teachers for a full year or close to it so that they can receive higher salaries and have more time to prepare. This may be gradually coming about as the school year is extended. If the proper pay is available and if teachers have time to prepare and are in better working conditions, then it would be possible for states and school districts to have higher standards for teachers and stick to them instead of waiving them when not enough people show up.

Question from Marilyn McCarthy LA Consultant NC Dept of Public Instruction:
What factors do you feel have contributed to the flat test scores? Can Reading First results from the past to years be a viable predictor for the future NAEP results? Do you forsee additional Federal funds for reading training?

Grover J. Whitehurst:
Scores were not flat for NAEP. They were up in math at both grades, up in reading at grade 4, and down in reading at grade 8. NAEP is like a thermometer that informs you of changes in termperature without telling you why the temperature has changed. Thus I can’t use data from the most recent NAEP release to explain the trend lines.

Your question about the predictive relationship between scores in Reading First schools and later performance on NAEP (and I would add, state tests) is interesting. Reading First is still being rolled out and implemented, so it will be a while before the predictive association can be examined.

Congress approved additional funding for struggling adolescent readers (the Striving Readers program) this past year. I’m not sure of prospects for the future.

Question from Carmen Rivera, Secondary Literacy Coach, UCLA Center X:
Once it becomes clear that the tenets of NCLB and its implementation did more harm than good; and once the issues of growing urban schools amongst the failing schools in America is dissected, what “next steps” recommendations does this group propose and who should be responsible for those initiatives?

Jack Jennings:
The No Child Left Behind Act has certainly focused attention on school improvement, but many educators and others feel that they were not sufficiently involved when that legislation was drafted in Congress and by the Bush administration. That Act expires in 2007-8 and therefore the Congress and the President must again deal with how can the country best improve the schools. This is the chance for educators to have their voices heard. But, criticisms of what NCLB has done will not be sufficient to carry the day. Educators especially must agree on better ways to improve the schools, and then they must find ways to be united as they offer this advice to the policymakers. Good ideas and good organization are needed if better ways are to be found to help teachers to assist students in learning more.

Question from Jerome Taylor, Department of Africana Studies, University of Pittsburgh:
In the evaluation of new and existing educational reforms, why is there such an industry-wide reliance on tests of significant differences between experimental and control groups? One alternative would be to report more systematically on the proportion of students in both groups that meet or exceed proficiency standards. It is entirely possible to find statistically significant differences between groups which may have little bearing on the proportion of students reaching or exceeding proficiency standards. This is especially problematic with minority groups -- the intervention produces statistically significant improvement without appreciably elevating the proportion of students reaching or exceeding proficiency. In what way, then, are these models ‘proven’ or representative of ‘best practices’?

Grover J. Whitehurst:
I like to see tests of statistical significance for overall differences between groups, tests of statistical significance for important subgroups, as well as rates of growth and final levels of performance, overall and for subgroups. Policy makers and educators need to know not only that a program or practice used in one group is better than business as usual, but the degree to which that program or practice achieves targets of growth and learning.

Question from Julie Mannos, Parent:
Where does the Federal Government obtain their information? That is, why is there such a discrepancy in information?

Grover J. Whitehurst:
The Federal Government obtains the information for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) from direct assessments of about 660,000 students from every state in the nation. The information from the most recent NAEP accords well with the results of the previous released findings from the Long Term Trend NAEP and from international assessments in which the U.S. participates.

Question from Alexia Parks, Director,
If EVERY child had a mentor, would schools see improved academic performance and higher test scores?

Kathleen Kennedy Manzo:
Certainly reading practice has been shown to improve students reading skills, particularly their fluency, comprehension and vocabulary... For children who’ve had little exposure to books and reading at home, having an opportunity to read or participate in any variety of other enrichment activities with a mentor or tutor would likely provide benefits. Experts in the field, however, say that mentors and tutors are more effective when they receive some kind of training, ongoing support, and feedback. Working with a teacher can also help them to align their own efforts with what the student is learning in school.

Question from Joanne McCluskey,teacher grade 4, Alexandria Middle School:
Do you think that there are so many core curriculum standards and that especially in Math we are teaching for the standards but not teaching and learning deeply enough for mastery? It seems we have so much to cover and so little time that we teach and move on with little time for practice and mastery of the standard. We seem to be teaching today “an inch deep and 100 miles long.” You comments please!

Jack Jennings:
Your criticism about too much to cover with too little time is exactly the point made by experts when the first TIMMS results came out several years ago (that test is an international gauge of math and science proficiency). These experts said that the standards many of our states have are too comprehensive compared to those in other countries and that we need to revisit state standards and focus them on the essential content and then spend the time on that content.

Question from Penny Tenoschok, Educational Diagnostician:
One of the requirements of NCLB is to determine whether special education teachers are “highly qualified” or not. I have been a special educator for 25 years and taken MANY staff development classes in reading and math in addition to other areas. Yet I am not “highly qualified” because these classes were considered to be methods classes. Please explain why methods classes such as Orton-Gillingham Training do not apply to certification as “highly qualified.” FYI - Special Ed. teachers that are regular education certified are leaving the field. These kids need specific methods of teaching otherwise they would not need the specialized methods of special education teachers!

Jack Jennings:
I do not have the answer to your question. It is better directed to the U.S. Department of Education and to the state departments of education which are setting the rules for interpreting what is permitted in determining highly qualified. Sorry.

Question from Kristin Gehsmann, Ed.D., Educational Consultant, Gehsmann Educational Consulting, Vermont:
Given the lack of evidence that high stakes testing yields increases in student learning, why should educators be surprised to see NAEP scores remain flat? This outcome seems predictable.

Grover J. Whitehurst:
NAEP scores aren’t flat. They were up in math in grades 4 and 8 in math and up in grade 4 in reading compared to 2003. On the long term trend NAEP, released in June, scores over a 5 year period showed healthy gains in reading and math. There is a robust research base that demonstrates that assessment and feedback, properly designed and implemented, can boost student learning.

Question from Miles Myers, Senior Researcher, ISCA, Los Angeles:
Why have the 12th grade results not been released? When will they be released?

Grover J. Whitehurst:
12th grade students were assessed at the national level only. It was decided to release the 4th and 8th grade results first, as many educators and the public are interested in the state data. The 12th grade data will be released this spring.

Question from Dave May, private educational consultant:
As there is a key question for the new state assessent and standard on coherence, I would expect we need to address the same question to what is the coherence to NAEP assessment to the state standards, assessment and maybe most importantly to instruction?

Jack Jennings:
Good question. A test is only a measurement of what should be taught, and states may have set different academic standards than the standards which have been set for NAEP. For instance, a certain math skill may be presumed for 8th graders in NAEP, but a state may have decided that that skill is more appropriately taught to 9th graders. The federal government should be very clear that NAEP is measuring certain knowledge at certain grade levels, and that states may differ on that.

Question from Kevin Bushweller:
Dr. Whitehurst: When are the results due out for the Trial Urban District Assessment --the NAEP sample of urban districts--being released? With the third data point from that sample, is there sufficient information to gauge how reading reform efforts are going in those districts?

Grover J. Whitehurst:
TUDA results will be released later this fall. There are only 2 data points for math. There are 3 points for reading, but not for all participating districts. Certainly one would hope to see scores going up for districts that are heavily invested in reform, but TUDA, like the rest of NAEP, isn’t designed to test the impact of particular programs and practices at the district level. Substantial demographic changes at the district level, for example, could drive scores up or down for reasons that are independent of district reading initiatives. Also NAEP isn’t designed to be aligned with the curriculum and learning standards in particular districts so scores could go up on an aligned state test more quickly than on NAEP. Further NAEP is given only to students in grade 4, while reading reforms in some districts may be concentrating on earlier grades. If reforms started a couple of years ago with kindergarten and first grade, these children would not been tested on the most recent NAEP.

Question from Miles Myers, Senior Researcher, ISCA, Los Angeles:
Has anynone examined the specific differences between scores on State tests and scores on NAEP. For example, NAEP seems to have more comprehension items in reading. What are some of these differences?

Jack Jennings:
As I understand it, a Washington-based group has looked at the recently released NAEP data and issued a statment accusing the states of inflating state test score data because many state test scores were higher than the states’s NAEP scores. But, your question goes behind the test results and asks what is each test measuring--what are the academic standards behind state tests and NAEP tests? Your question is a good one, but I am not aware of any group which has done such an evaluation. I presume that if this evaluation were to be done, it would find that the subject matter in some states is different than what NAEP is testing.

Question from Marilyn Morey, Illinois State University:
In light of the NAEP scores on reading and math, how do you think this should be used to inform those concerned about the upcoming science assessment requirements for NCLB? What can be learned from this to inform science teaching/learning/assessment?

Grover J. Whitehurst:
The NAEP assessment is independent from each state’s own assessment, which is used to measure progress for purposes of NCLB. The NAEP assessments are not aligned specifically with any state’s curriculum or standards, so one cannot prepare for them. The content of the NAEP assessments is determined by a national panel of subject-matter experts and educators, and measure what students should know and be able to do in the particular subject. NAEP has no official role in NCLB, but states often use the NAEP framework to inform their standards and assessments.

Question from Edward S Lowry, Owner, Advanced Information Microstructures:
Fifty million American students are routinely taught how to arrange pieces of information by teachers who have little understanding of what is a reasonable structure for pieces of information. The result complicates and impeded math, science, and technology learning. Can you suggest educators who might respond helpfully to that issue?

Jack Jennings:
As I understand it, recent brain research has found that people learn best when they can relate what they are learning to what they already know and that fundamental asssumptions must be explained and understood for learning to make a difference. One would hope that schools of education and universities in general are incorportating the best of what we are learning about the workings of the brain into their coursework and into how they teach.

Question from Miles Myers, Senior Researcher, ISCA, Los Angeles:
The pattern appears to be same as priopr reports---early grades show some upward movement and 8th grade shows declines. Question: Do these NAEP results suggest that there has not been enough emphasis on Comprehension in early or 8th grade reading programs? Second question: How do the items differ (decoding vs comprehension) on the 4th grade and 8th grade NAEP?

Kathleen Kennedy Manzo:
Many experts have raised concerns that there has not been enough attention to developing reading comprehension, at all grade levels. In the early grades much of the focus has been on much more basic reading skills. In the later grades it has long been assumed that once a student learns to read the comprehension part eventually kicks in. And reading instruction generally ends at 3rd or 4th grade, just when students are beginning to tackle more complex content and a wider variety of texts.

There has been greater attention lately to adolescent literacy and the need for continued reading instruction, geared toward the more complex reading tasks encountered by middle and high school students. Adolescent literacy is a major focus of high school reform efforts. And just this week the National Governor’s Association and the National Association of State Boards of Education released action plans for improving adolescent literacy.

The 4th and 8th grade NAEP tests are tests of comprehension. They assess reading for literary experience, reading for information, and, in 8th grade, reading to perform a task.

Question from Jeff Barger, Literacy Specialist, NC Teacher Academy:
Should a five point drop, over a five year period, in reading scale scores be a cause for major concern in a particular state?

Grover J. Whitehurst:
If the drop is statistically significant and the state, as I would assume, wants to see scores going up instead of down, then the answer is “yes.” In deciding what the drop means, it would be important to examine a broader context such as demographic changes in the state, or changes in the state’s exclusion rates for student participation in NAEP, as well as changes in state policy and practice.

Question from Michael Hertting, Principal on Leave, Madison Metropolitan School District and Faculty Member University of Wisconsin - Whitewater:
There has been much money pumped into Reading First grants which require schools to select only very prescriptive based reading programs. After reading the minority view in the report to Congress and the results of NAEP I am wondering if you foresee a modification where research proven programs would be allowed?

Kathleen Kennedy Manzo:
Some states are already re-evaluating their approach to implementing Reading First, but may be reluctant to change the program specifications if it requires going resubmitting their grant applications and undergoing another extensive review. While Reading First officials say that grantees are taking a variety of paths toward implementing research-based reading instruction, it is clear that many have required their teachers to use basal reading programs and to follow them strictly. As Dr. Whitehurst said, the evaluations on those initiatives are not yet in and it is unclear whether Reading First schools are seeing the kinds of gains in student achievement that they hope for. But some experts are calling for increased flexibility in using Reading First funds, now that implementation is well underway, to allow a wider variety of instructional materials and professional development.

As you may know the Senate education committee recently asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate complaints about Reading First, particularly whether states were pressured to select certain texts and tests, or whether contracts were steered toward certain publishers and consultants. That investigation is expected to last through next spring.

Question from Brian Stecher, Senior Social Scientist, RAND:
What is the pattern of scores for specific subgroups? Is it true that scores have been increasing for all subgroups, and the overall pattern is due to changes in the population?

Grover J. Whitehurst:
For mathematics, the pattern is that scores are up since 2003 in mathematics for Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics in 4th and 8th grade.

For reading, the pattern is that scores are up since 2003 for Blacks and Hispanics.

In general, it is more informative to look at trend lines for subgroups than for the overall population because of changes in the demographic mix over time.

Question from Miles Myers, Senior Researcher, ISCA, Los Angeles:
Does NAEP follow the same requirements as NCLB in the collection sub-group scores (95% attendance)? Some reports suggested that NAEP was measuring subgroup (achievement gap) progress on a scale consistent with NCLB.

Grover J. Whitehurst:
No, NAEP does not have the same requirements as under NCLB. NAEP is conducted using a representative sample of students. As such, student subgroups are represented in the assessments to the extent they appear in the student population in each grade. NAEP also provides testing accommodations to remove barriers to the participation of students with disabilities and English language learners, but is not required to include 95% of such students.

Question from Laura Westberg, Senior Project Manager, Family Partnership in Reading, National Center for Family Literacy:
I am concerned that the public is getting misinformation about the NAEP results and perhaps the implementation of NCLB. What can be done about this?

Kathleen Kennedy Manzo:
Your question is very broad, but a well-known national organization such as yours already has many venues for disseminating information. Certainly the editorial pages of local and national newspapers are a place to start. I have found that efforts to offer reporters alternative perspectives on events or, say, what test results mean, are generally welcome.

Question from Michal Lomask, CT State department of Education:
Since the NAEP is based on non-parallel test forms, how is the assessment configured to ensure that equivalent student groups sampled across the US are taking similar test forms?

Grover J. Whitehurst:
Individual students do not take the complete NAEP test. Each gets a subset of questions. These questions are distributed across students in such a way to ensure that equivalent groups of students are taking all questions and question-types at about the same rate. So the goal is to ensure that any particular subgroup receives in totality all of the assessment. NAEP is only concerned with group estimates and not individual scores, and NAEP is very reliable at the group level.

Question from Jim Kohlmoos, President, NEKIA:
The historical charts on the average increase in the scale scores for reading and math in the 4th grade seem to indicate that the rate of improvement between 2000 and 2003 was significantly higher than between 2003 and 2005. Is this an accurate reading of the data? If so why wasn’t this important trend mentioned in the release of the data last week? Also, since NAEP is not designed for inferring causal relationships, shouldn’t policy makers, media folks etc be discouraged using these data for making claims about NCLB’s effectiveness or ineffectiveness.

Grover J. Whitehurst:
The NCES practice in reporting trends in NAEP results is to conduct a statistical test of the difference between the current data, the previous data point, and the first data point. The NAEP data explorer, at, can be used to test the statistical significance of other data points in the trend line.

As I indicated in the answer to another question, NAEP data can’t be used to support strong causal claims about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of NCLB. NAEP allows us to know where we are compared to where we were (the trend line) and compared to where we want to be (achievement levels). We have much more work to do as a nation to get where we want to be.

Question from Miles Myers, Senior Researcher, ISCA, Los Angeles:
Can the NAEP results be used to assess accurately the impact of NCLB? Stated another way: According to IES research standards, is the use of NAEP results to measure NCLB results an example of good research design?

Grover J. Whitehurst:
As I have indicated in response to other questions, NAEP is not designed to answer questions about the impact of particular programs and policies.

Question from Dr. Rita Deyoe-Chiullan, retired teacher/adjunct professor, Dallas Texas:
As I teach experienced teachers and prepare new ones and reflect on my own teaching experience, it seems to me that education has ceased to be about children’s learning and has become a top-down marketplace for tests and textbooks which operates for the benefit of educational publishing and assessment companies. How can we limit the obsession to test children and castigate teachers and principals while increasing the opportunities to encourage, inspire and validate the learners?

Jack Jennings:
The current standards/testing/accountability movement arose principally because the nation’s leaders believed that American students in general did not know enough as compared to students in other industrialized countries and that there was too much of a gap between students of different racial, ethnic and income groups. Those were and are legitimate concerns, but this movement even if it were to be done correctly would not be the full answer to those concerns. We have a very uneven set of schools in this country, with more experienced teachers in easier to teach schools, with better working conditions for teachers in those schools, and frequently with more money being spent in those schools than in poorer schools. We are never going to raise the level of education for all students solely through the pressure of accountability. We must pay much more attention to the quality of teaching, the quality of coursework, the conditons of schooling, and also the preparation of young children for school.

Question from Joe Petrosino, Director of Special Education, Somerset Tech, New Jersey:
Can you please share, in your opinion(s) the future of NCLB in relation to the reauthorization of IDEA?

Grover J. Whitehurst:
IDEA has recently been reauthorized and is aligned in many ways with NCLB.

Question from Joyce Covington, Teacher, Holmes Middle School:
It is all well and good that these people look at paper data (that is accurate for the moment in time that it was generated) to inform the public, but it might behoove them to actually take into consideration some of the other non-printable data that only a person in the classroom can delineate.

How was the data collected? Is the data a sampling of all of the school districts across the nation? If a sampling, is the data from the same school districts looked at year to year? Have you talked to the teachers in rural, suburban, urban areas? OK, to be more concise, what data is being collected and from what type of school districts?

Grover J. Whitehurst:
We can only put so much into our printed reports. However, we do have a web site where you can find much more data, as well as information about how the survey was designed and administered: Briefly, NAEP uses a representative sample in the nation and each state. State samples number about 3,000 students at each grade for each subject. Schools are sampled randomly in each state, so there are no results below the state level (except for a few large urban school districts, which will be released in about a month or so).

Question from Kevin Bushweller:
Dr. Whitehurst: The results of the long-term trend tests, released this summer, were more encouraging, particularly in 4th grade reading. Can you explain the differences between the trend test and the main NAEP and what might explain the differences in the results.

Grover J. Whitehurst:
The long-term trend results released in June covered changes over a 5 year period, from 1999 to 2004. The main NAEP results, released last week, covered changes over a 2 year period from 2003 to 2005. The annualized rates of growth are very similar for the trend test and the main NAEP.

Question from Rita Deyoe-Chiullan, retired teacher/adjunct professor, Dallas TX:
Has it occurred to anyone that what all these tests measure is the degree to which administrators demand and teachers comply with teaching test-taking skills and targeted test content, rather than teaching children? In that context, shouldn’t we be measuring the loss of student motivation to remain in school and contribute to society as adults after they escape the pressure-cooker of public schooling? I think we’ve suffered some serious set-backs in the outcomes for society and individuals while we focused on politically motivated insistence on numerical success.

Jack Jennings:
Teachers and their organizations are making these points, but it is hard to convince leaders and the press that test numbers are not the proper way to measure the success of the public schools.

Question from Miles Myers, Senior Researcher, ISCA, Los An geles:
The 4th and 8th grade results in Reading may be suggesting that the AYP goals of NCLB are not refecting the rate of progress possible under NCLB. What specific research studies are the foundation for the Annual Yearly Progress requirements of NCLB?

Grover J. Whitehurst:
Results from NAEP are not used to measure AYP under NCLB. Each state sets its own standards for achievement and designs and delivers assessments to measure progress in meeting those standards. Thus state assessments are where one should look to address the question of whether student performance is on track to meet the proficiency goals of NCLB.

Kevin Bushweller (Moderator):
Thank you for joining us for this thought-provoking discussion about the recent NAEP results. And we want to extend a special thanks to our guests, who took the time to answer your questions.

This chat is now over. Have a great day.

The Fine Print

All questions are screened by an editor and the guest speaker prior to posting. A question is not displayed until it is answered by the guest speaker. We cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered, or answered in the order of submission. Guests and hosts may decline to answer questions. Concise questions are encouraged.

Please be sure to include your name and affiliation when posting your question.’s Online Chat is an open forum where readers can participate in a give- and-take discussion with a variety of guests. reserves the right to condense or edit questions for clarity, but editing is kept to a minimum. Transcripts may also be reproduced in some form in our print edition. We attempt to correct errors in spelling, punctuation, etc. In addition, we remove statements that have the potential to be libelous or to slander someone. In cases in which people make claims that could be libelous, we will remove the names of institutions and departments. But in those cases, we will not alter the ideas contained in the questions.

Please read our privacy policy if you have questions.

Chat Editors