Florida education Commissioner Gerard Robinson has asked the National Assessment Governing Board to consider setting standards for the numbers of students with disabilities and English-language learners that states exclude from taking national assessments in reading and math. In a letter to David Driscoll, the chairman of NAGB, which sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Mr. Robinson wrote that differences in inclusion rates among states raise concerns about state-level comparisons of the test results.
The numbers of 4th and 8th grade students who took NAEP and were identified as having disabilities or being English-language learners have risen for more than a decade, since NAEP first allowed students to use accommodations on the tests. Recent NAEP results showed Florida’s reading and math gains have stalled after years of steep increases.
On the most recent NAEP administration, 40 states plus the District of Columbia met the goal of including 95 percent of all 4th and 8th graders in the reading assessment samples.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that Cornelia Orr, the executive director of NAGB and a former testing honcho in Florida, said that while the percentages of excluded students in some states may appear large, the raw numbers of students are small, so it doesn’t make a large difference in the overall scores.
A version of this article appeared in the January 25, 2012 edition of Education Week as Fla. Presses Changes to NAEP Exclusions