You are hereHome ›
New Levels of Accountability
The National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) is set to become a more common educational acronym in the state. The assessment is used to measure how our students are doing as compared to other students across the nation. Periodically, federal testing proctors come into our district, randomly select a sampling of students, and administer the test.
NAEP is often called the nation’s report card because it is the only measure of student achievement given periodically to a sampling of students around the nation. However, the level of achievement expected to be proficient is distinctly different than the levels expected in statewide assessments.
I was introduced to a new term this week. During a presentation done by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, they repeatedly used the term “NAEP-tized.” I am completely confident that the term will not be found in the dictionary or Wikipedia. The descriptor refers to a process that will be applied to our 2011 district testing results. Our scores will be “NAEP-tized” as a transition to the future.
The fall 2011 Wisconsin and Knowledge Concept Exam (WKCE) state test scores were released in March. The results demonstrated that 84% of Menomonie tenth grade students and 85% of our 8th grade students were proficient in reading. Additionally, 74% of Menomonie tenth graders and 83% of eight grade students were proficient in mathematics. SDMA students were above the state average in both mathematics and reading.
In addition to the WKCE, we also administer the ACT Explore and Plan tests to all of our eighth, ninth, and tenth grade students. The ACT results also confirm that, in nearly all categories, our students perform above the state and national average. We provide the testing for all students to determine areas where improvement needs to occur prior to college and career.
Despite above average results, we consistently work on measures to further improve the achievement levels. We are currently working on changes in both literacy and mathematics. Our 6-8 math program will see the biggest changes over the next two years.
Regardless of changes, the statewide proficiency bar is about to be raised for everyone. We support the rigorous approach of the new standards, but we all need to understand what the new reporting measures will mean. The DPI plans to take the current WKCE results and “NAEP-tize” them.
For the next two years, they will translate the WKCE levels into new proficiency levels by applying the NAEP scoring system. The definition of proficient in NAEP reporting differs from the proficiency levels in the WKCE. In NAEP, proficient is defined as “students who will be successful with very challenging coursework.”
It is likely that the only students who will be identified as proficient under the new definition will be those students who currently score in the WKCE advance category. Our district proficiency levels are likely to drop into the 30- 35% range. We need to be prepared to communicate with parents about what the new definition of “proficient” means.
The states that have already switched to the new cut scores have seen similar drops using new proficiency levels. The Governor of Tennessee sent a letter to every student’s home explaining what the new scoring system would mean. Michigan also saw their percentages plummet. It does not mean our students are doing worse, but rather that the bar has been raised.
Some of the critics of NAEP scores claim that the test cannot measure many of the qualities students must develop to be successful. Others say that the NAEP definition of “proficiency” is unnaturally high. It is a common claim that U.S. students fare poorly when compared with students the world over. So, how would foreign students do if they had to meet NAEP proficiency benchmarks by 2014?
One study conducted by a former acting director of the National Center for Education Statistics concluded that most of the countries that participate in common international tests would not do well under NAEP’s definition of proficiency.
Former National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) acting director Gary Phillips developed estimates using NAEP scores. Phillips' study found that of 45 countries in the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), only six have a majority of students who would score proficient on NAEP's 8th-grade math test (American Institute for Research).
So why use NAEP? Why create more controversy? The scoring will be used as a temporary measure to meet the requirements of Wisconsin’s waiver request from the mandates of No Child Left Behind. It is not perfect, but it meets the federal requirements in order for Wisconsin to receive a waiver.
If it seems confusing, it is. If it seems unfair, it may be. But it is also what we need to do in order to move forward with federal accountability measures. It will only be confusing for a while. Beginning in 2014-2015, we will have a new assessment system statewide that will also include a new scoring system.
The New Smarter Assessment System will be implemented in 2014. Hopefully, it will live up to its name!
- District Schools
- District Departments
- Staff Services
- School Board