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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