(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Shakespeare’s Henry V includes a scene in the tent of the French nobles in which the Dauphin prattles on an on about how many of the English he plans to slaughter on the following day in the battle of Agincourt. “Will it never be day!?!?!” the Dauphin exclaimed. Careful what you wish for…
NAEP’s 2017 results for Math and Reading for states and select large urban districts will become available tomorrow. I’ve got my basement primed with six laptops and a case of Monster energy drinks. Mrs. Ladner is planning to occasionally open the vault to hurl additional pizza boxes downstairs before quickly re-sealing civilization’s final defense against anarchy. A few notes:
Large score movements either up or down are rare so up is better than down but when examining a statewide average score. On the math and reading tests 10 points roughly equates to an average year worth of progress (e.g. if we did a random assignment exercise and had one group take the 4th grade math test as 4th graders and the other group as 5th graders we would expect the 5th graders to score about 10 points higher). Most gains or declines are of the incremental variety (1-3 points) but they can add up over time like in Arizona, or cancel themselves out like in New York:
Was the 2015 NAEP a disappointing blip or the start of a new trend? A mere quarter century of national math improvement at both the 4th and 8th grade level came to an end in 2015. We’ll find out tomorrow.
If a trend, cry HAVOC and let slip the dogs of spin! Put me down as skeptical on some sort of lagged impact of the great recession given things like:
This will be a big NAEP for the Common Core project. I have not seen any reason to doubt the Tom Loveless analysis that measured the impact as a tiny positive. A tiny positive however was not what was promised. Let’s see what happens next.
Discipline Reform. I’ve been reading the debate on the discipline reform efforts of the Obama administration. I have no idea whether discipline reform had an adverse impact on academic performance, but if we are looking to subject the notion to conjecture and refutation, I would take the most interest in the score trends of low-income students of color in early adopting jurisdictions, and I would take a greater interest in 8th grade scores/trends.
Computerized testing. They piloted it in 2015, and then delayed the release of the 2017 NAEP to further study whether to make additional adjustments. Peggy Carr, the acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, told reporters last week “We have the full weight of scientific, psychometric evidence behind the release. We are comparing apples to apples. I think we can all be confident without a shadow of a doubt that we are going to be looking at true performance.” Perhaps understandably given the pressures involved some state chiefs took an interest in technical aspects of NAEP testing shortly after being briefed on their state scores, but the National Center for Education Statistics has a head start several years in the running on studying this issue, so I tend to believe them, unless Arizona scores tank, in which case…just kidding.
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