To the Editor:
In his essay, Al Kingsley, a British school official, encourages Americans to ignore and do away with the National Assessment of Educational Progress biannual math and reading results (“Ignore NAEP. Better Yet, Abolish It,” June 6, 2022).
Perhaps Mr. Kingsley is unaware that NAEP is our country’s only common standard to measure student progress. NAEP results allow us to compare trends across districts and states and gauge student achievement, including changes and gaps in achievement over time. In stark contrast to the U.K. education system—which has a national curriculum and standards used by all primary and secondary schools (aside from private, academy, and free schools) and standardized national assessments like A-levels—the U.S. public education system is primarily a state and local responsibility.
It is crucial that we have one valid and reliable measure to demonstrate how U.S. students are doing compared with their peers both nationally and internationally. While it does not tell us what each individual student knows, NAEP is a powerful snapshot of what students have learned and provides representative estimates of key subgroups. We need this information to make important policy decisions, examine the effects of education interventions across different subnational entities, determine our international competitiveness, and identify inequities and how best to allocate resources.
NAEP is especially important now as our country grapples with the massive disruption to learning that has happened over the past two years. The results provide critical evidence of the pandemic’s impact on students’ education across the country that we can leverage to mitigate learning loss and advance learning. Policy decisions should be based on rigorous evidence, and the United States would face an immeasurable loss without the unique insights and evidence that NAEP provides.
President & Chief Executive Officer
A version of this article appeared in the July 13, 2022 edition of Education Week as We Need NAEP