One Less Test for 12th Grade Students

By Catherine Gewertz — November 30, 2015 1 min read
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In this season of hot debate about too much testing, the folks who oversee the National Assessment of Educational Progress have brought a bit of good news for high school students: Seniors won’t have to take the test in 2017.

The National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for the NAEP, announced the change in a statement released Monday. A tight budget led the board to decide, at a meeting earlier this month, to cut back its schedule for upcoming tests.

The shift means that the writing assessment scheduled for 2017 will be given to 4th and 8th grade students as planned, but not to 12th grade students. Likewise, the 2018 tests in U.S. history, geography, and civics will be given to 8th graders, but not to 12th graders. Twelfth grade students could take tests in those subjects in 2021 or 2022, but only if there are sufficient funds to administer them, NAGB officials said.

Another change the board made in its schedule affects middle and high school students. The long-term trend assessment in reading and math, given to students who are 9, 13, and 17 years old, will be put off four years, from 2020 to 2024.

As the NAEP assessment schedule shows, these changes still leave many test administrations intact. Twelfth grade students will be assessed in reading, math, and science in 2019.

As you probably know, not all students take the NAEP. It’s a matrix-sample design, meaning that a nationally representative sample of students take it, and each one takes only part of the test. (Here’s a handy primer on the NAEP by my colleague Liana Heitin.)

The National Center for Education Statistics administers the NAEP with federal funding, and it has projected a shortfall, NAGB officials said. The cutbacks in the testing schedule were approved in order to protect high-priority projects, such as the transition from paper-and-pencil tests to digital versions by 2017.

The NAGB had been hoping to expand its Trial Urban District Assessment program by adding more districts to its current 21, but the projected budget deficit won’t allow that, officials said. The so-called TUDA is a NAEP program that facilitates results at the district level for districts that wish to participate in that way.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the High School & Beyond blog.