Opinion
International Letter to the Editor

Commentary Gave False Picture of NAEP Proficiency

December 13, 2011 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

In a recent Commentary (“NAEP’s Odd Definition of Proficiency,” Oct. 26, 2011), James Harvey makes inaccurate assertions about the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, achievement levels—specifically, that they are invalid and that the “proficient” level is set too high.

While there has been much debate about the challenging nature of the NAEP achievement levels, Mr. Harvey cherry-picks the findings he presents, most of which are decades old. He ignores more current findings—which happen to be positive—including the most recent NAEP evaluation report, which concludes that “the internal and procedural evidence supports the validity of the [achievement-level setting] process; however, the external evidence could be strengthened.”

Mr. Harvey’s research lacks thoroughness. He seemingly is unaware that the National Assessment Governing Board is strengthening the external evidence as the evaluation recommended, with more than 30 validity studies planned or under way. Preliminary results indicate that proficiency on 12th grade NAEP reading and mathematics is consistent with a 500 on the SAT in reading and mathematics, the scores the College Board has set as college-readiness benchmarks. This contradicts both of Mr. Harvey’s assertions. He also incorrectly identifies as a board member someone who has never served.

The governing board intends to use research rather than opinions about international achievement as one of the external sources of information about the achievement levels. In fact, the 2011 NAEP scores will be compared to both the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, or TIMSS, and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, or PIRLS. The results of these studies will provide additional evidence about the achievement levels of U.S. students. To be globally competitive, our nation must benchmark against the best in the world.

Accepting low expectations is perilous for students and the country as a whole. In contrast with Mr. Harvey, the board will not accept demography as an excuse for setting low standards of achievement.

Cornelia S. Orr

Executive Director

National Assessment Governing Board

Washington, D.C.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the December 15, 2011 edition of Education Week as Commentary Gave False Picture of NAEP Proficiency

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
Curriculum Webinar
Strategies for Incorporating SEL into Curriculum
Empower students to thrive. Learn how to integrate powerful social-emotional learning (SEL) strategies into the classroom.
Content provided by Be GLAD
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
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

International What the Research Says It's Not Just U.S. Students. Civics Scores Have Dropped Around the World
Eighth graders are less engaged and knowledgeable about government than they were before the pandemic, a global study finds.
5 min read
vote ballot initiatives money 1371378601 01
LAUDISENO/iStock/Getty and EdWeek
International England Pushes for Cellphone Bans in Schools. Could the U.S. Be Next?
England is the latest country seeking to keep cellphones out of class.
3 min read
Tight crop photo of a student looking at their cellphone during class. The background is blurred, but shows students wearing uniforms.
E+
International Photos PHOTOS: Take a Round-the-World Tour of the Return to School
Here's what back to school looks like in classrooms around the globe.
1 min read
A teacher gives a lesson on the first day of school at a cadet lyceum in Kyiv, Ukraine on Sept. 4, 2023.
Young cadets sing the national anthem during a ceremony on the first day of school at a cadet lyceum in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sept. 4, 2023.
Efrem Lukatsky/AP
International Opinion School Reform Is Tough All Over, Not Just in the U.S.
Even though some reforms produce evidence of student success, that often isn't enough to overcome political hurdles.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty