The 2010 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well are American Students Learning? Part III: NAEP and the Common Core Standards
What will the rise of the Common Core standards—and, specifically, the tests that will someday accompany them—mean for the future of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), oft described as the nation’s report card? This report, Part III of the 2010 Brown Center Report on American Education, isn’t sure; but it’s willing to speculate. First, it maps all 171 numbers- and algebra-strand items of the eighth-grade mathematics NAEP against the Common Core’s eighth-grade standards, and finds that the NAEP test items vary significantly in difficulty and that most fall below Common Core’s eighth-grade expectations. In the numbers strand, the average item clocks in at a fifth-grade level, and in the algebra strand, the average test question is geared toward a sixth grader. This doesn’t mean that NAEP has low expectations for eighth graders; rather, NAEP tests eighth-grade students cumulatively on items from first through eighth grades. Common core assessments, however, will likely act as end-of-year exams and will only include test material from a student’s current grade. The takeaway? Once the Common Core assessments are finalized, the two tests will be different in both structure and test material, and thus could provide states with two distinct and complimentary interpretations of student achievement.
Tom Loveless, “The 2010 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well are American Students Learning? Part III: NAEP and the Common Core State Standards,” (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2011).
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