With much of the educational community asking questions in the wake of last year’s disappointing NAEP scores, an important question is drawing attention: how well does the National Assessment of Educational Progress align to state education standards and assessments, and should that alignment improve?
It’s a question that has been asked for years and that officials at NAEP have hit head on, most recently in an October report by the NAEP Validity Studies Panel.
“NAEP is meant to be reflective of the entirety of what is taught in the United States, and the many changes to standards in the past 10 years have led to questions about the extent to which NAEP continues to meet this objective,” the report said. “The NVS Panel has conducted several studies to investigate this issue … and has found some variations in the alignment between state and NAEP standards across different NAEP grades and subjects.”
NAEP has initiated many studies in recent years to address alignment, and the results are obviously of interest to states and districts, which are required by federal law to administer assessments aligned to state standards and yet often judged by NAEP scores that may not be so closely aligned.
“States and districts have informally posited that, if the alignment between NAEP frameworks and their own content standards were closer, then their NAEP scores might be higher,” the report said. “Stated another way, there are concerns that NAEP may be underreporting the actual abilities of their students—and trends in achievement—because of some degree of misalignment.”
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