Campbell Brown’s Bizarre NAEP Response in the Washington Post
On May 23, 2016, former principal and Network for Public Education (NPE) executive director Carol Burris published this Washington Post article in response to former news anchor and education privatization proponent Campbell Brown’s May 16, 2016, statement, “Two out of three eighth graders in this country cannot read or do math at grade level. We are not preparing our kids for what the future holds.” This statement was part of a Slate interview in which Brown was offering advice to the next president.
In her Washington Post piece, Burris supports the assertion that one should not take the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) “proficient” rating to mean “at grade level”– which is what Brown does in her Slate statement.
The NAEP website clearly notes that NAEP achievement levels are still considered to be in “trial status” and “should continue to be interpreted and used with caution.”
What is more to the point is that comparison research exists in which NAEP achievement levels were examined in conjunction with international testing. As Burris reports:
[Former teacher and Harvard professor who is an expert on school reform and student achievement, Tom] Loveless, who has written extensively about NAEP, said the following in his email correspondence with me:
“The cut point on NAEP is much too high [to be considered grade level].
In a 2007 study, researcher Gary Phillips projected where scores on the TIMSS, a series of international math and science given to kids around the world, would land on the NAEP scale. He estimated that 27 percent of Singapore’s 8th graders would fail to meet the NAEP proficient cut score in math. At the time, Singapore was the highest scoring country in the world. Japan — not exactly a weak math country–would see only 57 percent meet proficiency; 43 percent would “fail.” You can read more about that study on pp. 10-13 of the 2007 Brookings Report authored by Loveless that you can findhere.
The above certainly provides context for interpreting NAEP proficiency.
Let me add to it.
The NAEP website includes trends in NAEP results by achievement level. Since Campbell Brown’s Bizarre NAEP Response in the Washington Post | deutsch29: