Giving Compass' Take:

• National education progress indicators, like NAEP, inspire reactionary policies that often fall short of the improvement they are intended to achieve.  Erin Gohl argues that policymakers need to break this cycle to effectively overhaul education. 

• What are the advantages and limitations of NAEP and other national tests? How can policymakers incorporate the information provided by tests without falling into a reactionary cycle? 

• Learn why there are concerns that the digital format of NAEP may have hurt some students' scores

Earlier this month, the National Center for Education Statistics released the results from the 2017 administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading and mathematics.

In responding to these results and trends, many civic leaders–governors, state education commissioners, editorial boards, and chambers of commerce–are celebrating, bemoaning, critiquing, and questioning themselves and their colleagues. Statutes, policies, and adjustments to systems of accountability will occur.

Assertions that systemic change will take time are currently being recited as people infer the meaning of low single digit variances from the previous round of testing.

This familiar routine of releasing results, parsing the meaning, adjusting policies, amending accountability, and tweaking budgetary allocations is not limited to responding to NAEP. This occurs in each state on an annual basis in response to the once NCLB-, and now ESSA-, mandated assessments to receive federal funds. This process is undertaken with added intensity when the state issues school and/or district “grades.”

This cycle of designing and administering assessments, and then responding to the results, is the dominant input to decision making related to improving educational outcomes.

To move beyond the knee-jerk, reactive response, educational policymakers and practitioners should consider including development-informed priorities like social-emotional learning, family engagement, and 21st century skills as a central part of their approach to academic growth.

Read the full article about NEAP by Erin Gohl at Getting Smart