Leadership Symposium Early Bird Deadline Approaching | Join K-12 leaders nationwide for three days of empowering strategies, networking, and inspiration! Discounted pricing ends March 1. Register today.
Assessment

Education Dept. Policy on NAEP Release Makes Reporters Pledge Confidentiality

By Sean Cavanagh — October 25, 2005 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

When advance copies of “the nation’s report card” were distributed to news reporters last week, they came with tight restrictions on who could see that information before its official public release.

The U.S. Department of Education required reporters to sign a confidentiality agreement promising not to distribute the data from the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress—even for comments from outside experts—until its official release a day later, Oct. 19.

See Also

“Embargoes,” in the lexicon of journalists, are restrictions on when reporters can release information given to them in advance, and they are used often by both public agencies and private organizations. Many embargoes allow reporters to seek outside comment from sources who can offer independent analysis of the information to appear in stories once the embargo is lifted. Reporters typically seek such comments to ensure balanced coverage of news events.

But last week’s confidentiality agreement for the 2005 NAEP test scores in reading and mathematics said the results could not be “copied, published, announced, or in any other way made public,” a restriction that a number of officials said covered outside comment. That language was noticeably more specific than a confidentiality agreement associated with a NAEP test-score release in July.

Too Many Copies?

The National Center for Education Statistics, which administers NAEP, and the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for the assessment, jointly decided rules for the embargo, said Mike Bowler, a spokesman for the Institute of Education Sciences, the arm of the Education Department that oversees the NCES.

Mr. Bowler said the embargo was strengthened from the previous NAEP release in part because the latest scores offered information on all 50 states and drew interest from regional and local reporters nationwide. Allowing all those reporters to distribute the information would have amounted to releasing the report before it was made public, he said.

He noted that the department took numerous steps to help the public and reporters digest the test data, including briefings on the results and a new Web site with detailed state-data comparisons (www.nationsreportcard.gov).

“The idea is to be helpful, and give reporters time to think about the information,” Mr. Bowler said. “If everyone’s playing by the same rules, no one’s at a disadvantage.”

Debra Silimeo, the senior vice president of Hager Sharp Inc., a public relations consultant to the NCES, said she believed confidentiality agreements had been routinely required of reporters since at least 2002, when her company began working on those test-score releases. Although she was unable to provide those documents, she said they were used in part because of the number of copies being distributed for state-by-state NAEP results.

The number of media outlets receiving embargoed information has grown since then, she said. “Just a handful of reporters had embargoed information [then],” Ms. Silimeo said. “It was a small universe of data” to oversee.

A version of this article appeared in the October 26, 2005 edition of Education Week as Education Dept. Policy on NAEP Release Makes Reporters Pledge Confidentiality

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

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

Assessment Spotlight Spotlight on Assessment
This Spotlight will help you evaluate effective ways to offer students feedback, learn how to improve assessments for ELs, and more.
Assessment Opinion To Replace Skill Mastery for Seat Time, There Are 3 Requirements
Time for learning and student support take on a whole new meaning in the mastery-based learning model.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Assessment More States Could Drop Their High School Exit Exams
There's movement afoot in nearly half the states that still mandate high school exit exams to end the requirement.
4 min read
A student looks at questions during a college test preparation class at Holton Arms School in Bethesda, Md., on Jan. 17, 2016. The SAT exam will move from paper and pencil to a digital format, administrators announced Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, saying the shift will boost its relevancy as more colleges make standardized tests optional for admission.
A student looks at questions during a college test preparation class at Holton Arms School in Bethesda, Md., on Jan. 17, 2016. More states are looking to abandon high school exit exams as support for standardized testing cools.
Alex Brandon/AP
Assessment Cardona Says Standardized Tests Haven't Always Met the Mark, Offers New Flexibility
The U.S. Department of Education is seeking to reinvigorate a little-used pilot program to create new types of assessments.
7 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at the Department of Education on Sept. 20, 2023 in Washington.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at the Department of Education on Sept. 20, 2023 in Washington.
Mark Schiefelbein/AP