Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education
A new report from the National Research Council, Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education, says programs that sanction or reward schools, teachers, or students based on test performance do not consistently or significantly raise student achievement. School-level incentives such as those used by No Child Left Behind yield the largest incentive gains, but even the largest gains measure around 0.08 standard deviations, the equivalent of moving performance from the 50th percentile to the 53rd percentile. Data also indicate that high school exit exams effectively reduce high school graduation rates.
Expanded Measures of School Performance
Expanded Measures of School Performance, a report by the RAND Corp., claims that NCLB has led the public to focus on student performance and accountability measures and to neglect the importance of schools’ role in promoting positive social and behavioral outcomes such as the preparation of students for college and the workplace and the teaching of personal responsibility, the value of teamwork, and civic-mindedness.
The Nation’s Report Card (NAEP): Civics 2010
Fourth-grade achievement on The Nation’s Report Card (NAEP): Civics 2010 was the highest it has been since 1998, but twelfth-grade scores were down from 2006—especially for girls (3 points). Eighth-grade scores remained flat. The white/black achievement gap observed in previous years persisted in 2010’s assessment, but the white/Hispanic achievement gap is closing: average Hispanic scores for all three grades were higher than in the 1998 assessment.
America’s High School Graduates: the 2009 NAEP High School Transcript Study
Results reported in America’s High School Graduates, the 2009 NAEP High School Transcript Study, show a link between high math and science scores on the 12th-grade NAEP and rigorous coursework. That is defined as three or more credits in a foreign language; completion of biology, chemistry, and physics; and pre-calculus or higher. Two-thirds of the graduates who took rigorous coursework took algebra I before high school, and they scored 31 points higher on the 12th-grade NAEP math assessment than did their cohorts.
Review of Cross-Country Evidence on Teacher Performance
A recent review casts doubts on the conclusions of a report by Harvard University’s Program on Education and Policy Governance touting the success of international pay-for-performance efforts based on superior performance on international tests. Review of Cross-Country Evidence on Teacher Performance notes that the sample size of the study—28 countries—is so small that extreme caution is required when interpreting results. The reviewer also notes that fundamental differences in the types of performance pay systems used by the countries in the sample are not considered.
Student Achievement at 8th Grade
A new analysis of eighth-grade student achievement by the Center for Education Policy shows upward trends in state reading and math scores, which bucks conventional wisdom. There was more progress in math than in reading. Student Achievement at 8th Grade finds that, at the advanced achievement level, female students outperformed male students; and that gaps have widened in most states between Black and white students, between Latino and white students, and between Native American and white students, at the advanced achievement level. Asian-American students outperformed white students by a notable margin, and other racial groups by a wide margin, at this level.
The State of State U.S. History Standards 2011
A new evaluation of state history standards, The State of State U.S. History Standards 2011, gives 28 states grades of D or below; 18 states received a grade of F. Only one state—South Carolina—received an A in the evaluation, but five states (Alabama, California, Indiana, Massachusetts, and New York) and the District of Columbia earned A-, and three more states (Oklahoma, Georgia, and Michigan) earned a B.
Brown Center Report on Education
Part I of the 2010 Brown Center’s annual report on American education covers America’s mediocre performance on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), media reaction to it, and myths surrounding international assessments. Part II considers how states receiving federal Race to the Top funds fared on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and why some states received grants despite poor performance on that assessment. Part III examines how well the NAEP aligns with the Common Core State Standards.
NAEP science results
Less than half of the students participating in the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tested at or above the “proficient” level in science. The score gap between white and black students was 36 points for fourth- and eighth-graders, and 34 points for twelfth-graders. Fifty-eight percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders tested had taken biology, chemistry, and physics—a higher percentage than for any other racial/ethnic group. Male students scored higher on average than female students at all grade levels.
Report on American Education, NAEP and the Common Core State Standards
On average, testing items on the eighth-grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) are two to three years below the eighth-grade Common Core Standards. The average grade level of NAEP content for algebra is at the Common Core’s sixth-grade level, and the average level of NAEP number strand items is at the Common Core’s fifth-grade level. Eighty percent of all eighth-grade NAEP algebra items are below Common Core eighth grade level, as are 90 percent of NAEP number strand items. Read Part III of the Brown Center’s Report on American Education, NAEP and the Common Core State Standards for more information.
One in 5 High School Applicants Can’t Enlist
About 20 percent of high school graduates applying to the military fail to meet minimum standards on its entrance exam, with young people of color far less likely to pass than white applicants, according to an Education Trust study. Hawaii had the highest ineligible rate (38.3 percent), followed closely by Mississippi (37.8 percent), and the District of Columbia (32.5 percent). Since the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery assesses wide-ranging occupational skills, low-scoring applicants are likely to find that they also cannot succeed in the civilian workforce.
A First Look at the Common core and College and Career Readiness
ACT’s A First Look at the Common core and College and Career Readiness provides a research-based estimate of how U.S. students are performing relative to the Common Core State Standards. The report finds that, relative to the Common Core, 31 percent of students reached standards in understanding complex text; 35 percent reached standards when using vocabulary and language; 24 percent work with science materials at standards’ level; and only about one-third of students reached standards’ level for each of the Common core Mathematical Practices. Latino and African American students performed well below white students in all Common Core math domains.
NAEP 12th grade reading and math results
High school seniors made modest gains in reading and math in 2009, according to the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The average high school senior scored 288 on the reading assessment, up from 286 in 2005, and 153 on the math assessment, up from 150 in 2005. But hold your applause: The scores mean that only 38 percent of U.S. seniors reached proficiency in reading, and even fewer (26 percent) reached proficiency in math.
A Call for Change
Black boys on average fall behind from their very earliest years in school, according to A Call for Change, a new report from The Council of Great City Schools. Twelve percent of fourth-grade black boys read proficiently, while 38 percent of their white cohorts do, and only 12 percent of black eighth-grade boys are proficient in math, compared to 44 percent of white boys the same age. Poor white boys perform just as well in school as black boys who are not economically disadvantaged, and black boys drop out of school at nearly twice the rate of white boys. Black boys’ SAT scores average 104 points lower than those of white boys, and in college in 2008, black men made up just 5 percent of the students enrolled.
Eighth-Grade Algebra: Findings from the Eighth-Grade Round of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study
The sooner a student successfully completes Algebra I -- a “gateway” course -- the more opportunities he or she will have to take higher-level mathematics courses, and the greater the probability that he or she will go on to college. A new report, Eighth-Grade Algebra: Findings from the Eighth-Grade Round of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, finds that the number of U.S. students taking algebra in eighth-grade has risen steadily from 1986 (16 percent) to 2004 (29 percent).
State Test Score Trends Through 2007-08, Part 5: Are There Differences in Achievement Between Boys and Girls?
Boys’ lagging performance in reading is schools’ most pressing gender-gap issue, according to research from the Center on Education Policy. In some states, 10 percent fewer boys than girls are proficient in reading, a trend that is consistent across those states’ elementary, middle, and high school levels. The study shows that the elementary reading gap widened in 14 states and narrowed in 24. But boys did not outperform girls in reading at any achievement level in any state.
Common Core State Standards
The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers have released the final version of the Common Core State Standards they hope will provide appropriate benchmarks for what students are expected to learn, for all students across the nation. The standards resulted from input by 48 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia.
Universal Access to a Quality Education: Research and Recommendation for the Elimination of Curricular Stratification
Research conducted over the past 25 years has pointed to the negative effects of curricular stratification, aka tracking. A new policy brief from the University of Colorado’s Education and Public Interest Center and the Arizona State University’s Education Policy Research Unit, Universal Access to a Quality Education: Research and Recommendation for the Elimination of Curricular Stratification, draws on data from three case studies (a San Diego charter school, a Long Island school district, and the nation of Finland) to show that abolishing tracking leads to higher levels of student achievement for more students. The brief’s authors provide concrete recommendations for reform and a clear process for phasing out tracking. “Detracking provides a realistic and proven pathway to academic excellence grounded in true equity,” they say.
Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Educational Innovation
The states all deserve a poor report card when it comes to educational innovation -- at least according to Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Educational Innovation, a report released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce, the Center for American Progress, and the American Enterprise Institute. Each state and the District of Columbia were evaluated in eight categories, including school management, finance, technology, and staffing. All of the states received mediocre evaluations. No state earned top grades in more than one or two areas.
State Test Score Trends Through 2007-08: Are Achievement Gaps Closing and Is Achievement Rising for All?
Achievement gaps for minority and low-income students have narrowed in most cases since 2002, but in many cases, more than 20 points separate the scores of white and non-low-income students from those of African-American, Latino, and low-income students, according to a study by the Center for Education Policy. In general, the news was more positive for Latino and African-American subgroups and for students at the elementary school level. Fewer gaps narrowed for low-income and native-American subgroups and for students in high school.
Achievement Gaps: How Black and White Students in Public Schools Perform in Mathematics and Reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress
Mathematics and reading scores on the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress were higher for both black and white public school students than they have ever been in the history of the assessment, according to a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics, Achievement Gaps: How Black and White Students in Public Schools Perform in Mathematics and Reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. However, average scores for white students were at least 26 points higher than for black students in each subject.
Getting Beneath the Surface
A new Educational Testing Service report, National Education Standards: Getting Beneath the Surface, provides an overview of the history, risks, possibilities, and progress of the national standards movement in the U.S., a nation that has traditionally supported local control of schools.
Understanding Reading First: What We Know, What We Don’t, and What’s Next
Reading First, despite research showing that the program did not work, increased professional development for teachers, influenced teaching practice, and provided reading coaches for struggling students, according to a new report by MDRC. Its lack of impact on reading comprehension was traced to two factors: Other, similar programs were already in place, and the additional instructional time for the program was too small to result in improvements.
Is the Emphasis on "Proficiency" Shortchanging Higher- and Lower-Achieving Students?
Contrary to widespread concerns, the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) have not sacrificed the needs of the highest- and lowest-achieving students in favor of those in the middle “proficient” level, a report by the Center on Education Policy states. The organization’s 50-state analysis, which for the first time includes data about student performance at the advanced and basic-and-above levels, profiles each state, showing trends in reading and math in elementary, middle, and high school. The report finds that, even though NCLB creates incentives for schools to ensure that students reach proficiency, states saw increases at the advanced and basic-and-above levels, as well.
Guiding Principles for Mathematics Curriculum and Assessment
Helping students understand how math works -- and what it’s good for -- is at the heart of new guiding principles released by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The report includes specific tips for teachers, administrators, and parents and promotes more tightly focused curricula for elementary and middle school math.
Why High Stakes Accountability Sounds Good but Doesn’t Work -- and Why We Keep on Doing It Anyway
NCLB is failing on several fronts, according to findings from Why High Stakes Accountability Sounds Good but Doesn’t Work -- and Why We Keep on Doing It Anyway, a report from the University of California-Los Angeles Civil Rights Project. The study by researchers Gail Sunderman and Heinrich Mintrop found little evidence that the law’s high stakes accountability has improved student achievement, and that schools that need improvement are not accurately identified.
The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools
The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools highlights the economic and social impact of achievement gaps in U.S. public schools. The report states that “educational gaps impose on the United States the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession,” but says the gaps “can be closed. Race and poverty are not destiny.”
Growing Pains in the Advanced Placement Program: Do Tough Trade-Offs Lie Ahead?
A study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Growing Pains in the Advanced Placement Program: Do Tough Trade-Offs Lie Ahead?, found that more than half of the more than 1,000 Advanced Placement (AP) teachers surveyed fear that looser enrollment requirements for AP classes will dilute course quality. But despite a more than 50 percent increase in student participation since 2002, course rigor, exam integrity, and student scores have not changed significantly.
The Nation’s Report Card: Music and Visual Arts
The 2008 NAEP assessment in arts is now available. There has not been significant change in the number of schools offering arts education to eighth-grade students since 1997. Female students outperformed male students in both music and art. Girls’ responding scores on average were 10 points higher than boys’ in music and 11 points higher in art.
The 2009 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning?
The gap between high- and low-achieving students has been shrinking in recent years, according to a recent analysis of data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress by the Brown Center on Education Policy. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the same study, after reviewing 20 years of data from the California Assessment Program, found test scores to be virtually static despite reforms -- a clear demonstration of just how difficult school turnarounds can be.
The Hispanic-White Achievement Gap in Oregon
Data collected by the Oregon Department of Education show an early and persistent achievement gap between that state’s Hispanic and white students, which appears by the third grade and remains fairly consistent throughout students’ school careers. A new study of this data from The Chalkboard Project, The Hispanic-White Achievement Gap in Oregon, indicates that Oregon’s Hispanic students are twice as likely to be economically disadvantaged and tend to start school far behind their white peers. On the bright side, data also indicate that English as a Second Language programs may have accelerated student learning for those students enrolled.
2009 Nation’s Report Card in Mathematics
The 2009 Nation’s Report Card in Mathematics, part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, says fourth- and eighth-graders in all 50 states have made significant gains in achievement over the past two decades. However, for the first time since the assessment began in 1990, fourth-graders showed no overall increase at the national level in 2009.
Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) in Mathematics
Results were mostly unchanged for the 18 districts participating in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) in mathematics between 2007 and 2009. However, eight of the 10 districts that began participating in 2003 made significant gains in both the fourth and eighth grades over the past six years. Participating in the 2009 TUDA math assessment were Atlanta, Austin (Texas), Boston, Charlotte (N.C.), Chicago, Cleveland, the District of Columbia, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego -- all since 2003 -- and Baltimore City, Detroit, Fresno (Calif.), Jefferson County (Louisville, Ky.), Miami-Dade, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia -- all participating for the first time this year. Charlotte was the only district to score higher than the national average at grade four. Austin, New York City, and San Diego had virtually the same scores as the national average at grade four. Only Austin scored higher than the national average at grade eight. The report points out that there are large demographic differences between urban districts and the nation, and recommends they be taken into consideration when comparing scores. Nationally, 48 percent of fourth-graders and 43 percent of eighth-graders are eligible for free/reduced-price school lunch compared to 46 percent of fourth-graders and an amazing 100 percent of eighth-graders in the TUDA participating districts.
The Nation’s Report Card
The latest statistics from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as “The Nation’s Report Card,” have been released, and scores for 17-year-olds in reading and math are virtually unchanged since 1971. The new report is based on results from the Department of Education’s tests administered in early 2008.
Keeping Middle Grades Students on the Path to Success in High School
Modest gains in reading and math achievement on state assessments and low academic standards are signs that middle-grade students are not well-prepared for high school courses, according to the Southern Regional Education Board’s (SREB) Keeping Middle Grades Students on the Path to Success in High School. The report says most of the 16 SREB states saw test scores rise from 2003 to 2007, but the scores are not increasing enough each year for states to meet the No Child Left Behind Act requirements by 2014.
Opportunity Equation Report
Common standards for math and science and high-quality assessments that reflect an overhaul in how the subjects are taught are needed to improve student learning, according to a report by the Carnegie Institute for Advanced Study’s Commission on Mathematics and Science Education. The Opportunity Equation report says school leaders and others “need to embrace a new understanding that the world has shifted dramatically.”
Race, Racial Concentration, and the Dynamics of Educational Inequality Across Urban and Suburban Schools
Educational inequality may be the result of course placement, student engagement, and academic achievement, especially in predominantly black, urban schools, according to an analysis of data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study by University of Illinois Assistant Professor Christy Lleras. For students in these schools, the most accurate predictor for the math they will take in high school is the level of course they took in eighth grade, according to Lleras.
Measuring Skills for the 21st Century
The primarily multiple-choice tests used to assess reading and math ability, though useful for meeting proficiency targets for the No Child Left Behind Act, generally are not helpful in determining a student’s college and work readiness. So says Education Sector in its report, Measuring Skills for the 21st Century. Within the report, Education Sector does not call for the creation of additional tests but instead declares “a need for better tests that measure more of the skills students need to succeed today.”
Bureau of Indian Education: Improving Interior's Assistance Would Aid Tribal Groups Developing Academic Accountability Systems
Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools are permitted to develop alternative targets for measuring Adequate Yearly Progress under NCLB, but only three tribal groups -- the Navajo Nation, the Oceti Sakowin Education Consortium, and the Miccosukee Tribe -- are developing such alternatives. A Government Accounting Office report, Bureau of Indian Education Schools: Improving Interior’s Assistance Would Help Some Tribal Groups Implement Academic Accountability Systems, found those three tribes reported a lack of federal guidance and communication from the BIE and the Department of Education.
Out of Many, One: Toward Rigorous Common Core Standards from the Ground Up
Individual state efforts to set college- and career-ready standards for high school graduates have led to a degree of consistency in English and mathematics requirements, according to a report released by Achieve, Out of Many, One: Toward Rigorous Common Core Standards from the Ground Up. All 16 states in the report are members of Achieve’s American Diploma Project Network.
Building on the Basics: The Impact of High-Stakes Testing on Student Proficiency in Low-Stakes Subjects
High-stakes testing in reading and math does not necessarily mean that students will underperform in subjects that are not part of the testing system, according to the Manhattan Institute for Public Research’s Building on the Basics: The Impact of High-Stakes Testing on Student Proficiency in Low-Stakes Subjects. The study looked at Florida’s high-stakes testing policy and its impact on science. It found that schools given an “F” by the state showed students gained in science in the year after the sanction, similar to gains made in reading and smaller than gains made in math. Science achievement may have increased because of these gains.
Predicting Success, Preventing Failure: An Investigation into the California High School Exit Exam
Children who are at risk of failing the California High School Exit Exam can be accurately identified as early as the fourth grade, according to a study by the Public Policy Institute of California. The study suggests that shifting resources to struggling students in early grades will be a more effective way to improve achievement than the state’s current approach of focusing on students in the last year of high school.
U.S. Department of Education “Dashboards”
The U.S. Department of Education has released two-page “dashboards,” one for the nation and every state, that include statistics on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, graduation rates, schools making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), highly qualified teachers, parents taking advantage of choice and supplemental educational services, and more. Individual state summaries provide information for anyone trying to get an overview of the state of a state’s education system.
Common Standards for K-12 Education? Considering the Evidence
State standards have too many topics, according to the report by the National Research Council of the National Academies, Common Standards for K-12 Education? Considering the Evidence. Too many topics lead to a lack of prioritization and a large number of repetitive standards between grades. An examination of state proficiency scores revealed that a student deemed proficient in one state could be placed in a remedial class, in the same subject, upon moving to another state.
Pain and Gain: Implementing No Child Left Behind in Three States, 2004-2006
Differing standards for proficiency in math and science across states, along with different traditions in local control, lead to significant variations in how NCLB accountability standards are implemented. RAND Corporation set out to find if states are meeting their NCLB accountability standards goals. The report, Pain and Gain: Implementing No Child Left Behind in Three States, 2004-2006 presents survey and interview data from schools, administrators, and teachers in California, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. The three states were chosen because of their differing geography and demographics and their different approaches to implementing NCLB.
Align High School Standards with Demands of College and the Workplace
Efforts to align high school policies with the demands of postsecondary education have led 19 states to adopt tougher standards and graduation requirements, a report by Achieve Inc. says. That’s an increase of eight states over 2006, and 26 states say they are aligning their standards or have plans to do so in the near future. Only nine states administer college-readiness tests to all high school students, however.
Accountability Incentives: Do Failing Schools Practice Educational Triage?
Schools are not engaging in “educational triage” – targeting students who are near the proficiency threshold for more attention and resources – to ensure they meet the Adequate Yearly Progress requirements under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, according to a study published in the winter 2008 issue of Education Next. The study’s author, Matthew G. Springer of Vanderbilt University, found that schools successfully raised the performance of students who were otherwise at risk of failing the state test without sacrificing the performance of lower- and higher-performing students.
The Proficiency Illusion
Tests that states use to measure academic progress and student proficiency under the No Child Left Behind Act are creating a false impression of success, especially in reading and in the early grades, according to The Proficiency Illusion. Published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Northwest Evaluation Association, the study says states are aiming low when it comes to their expectations for younger children, setting elementary students up to fail as they progress through their academic careers.
Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments (TREs): A Report from the NAEP Technology-Based Assessment Project
Computer-based testing holds promise for measuring “21st century” and higher-order thinking skills that cannot be measured easily via traditional pencil-and-paper exams, a report from the National Center for Education Statistics says. The report, called Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments (TREs): A Report from the NAEP Technology-Based Assessment Project, is based on a study of how more than 2,000 eighth-grade students from U.S. public schools performed in one of two computer-based testing scenarios.
How Communities, Parents, and Students Assess the Impact of the No Child Left Behind Act, 2004-2007: The Realities Left Behind
Americans do think public schools should be accountable for student achievement but believe changes need to be made to the No Child Left Behind Act, according to the Public Education Network (PEN). The results of three nationwide public hearings were released by PEN in a new report, Open to the Public: How Communities, Parents and Students Assess the Impact of the No Child Left Behind Act, 2004-2007. Those who spoke at the hearings said the law also needs to address the realities of inequality among students and schools.
Achievement Trap: How America Is Failing Millions of High-Achieving Students from Lower-Income Families
Low-income, high-achieving students are being short-changed by No Child Left Behind, according to Achievement Trap: How America is Failing Millions of High-Achieving Students from Low-Income Families. The report, released by Civic Enterprises and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, looks at students below the median income level who start school performing at high levels, but lose ground at every level of school and plummet in college. According to the report, the faulty assumption that these students don’t need help to achieve at high levels is causing an enormous talent drain in our schools.
NCLB Reauthorization Database
No Child Left Behind is up for renewal in Congress, and the Education Commission of the States has launched a tool to help keep track of the reauthorization process. Its new database shows the recommendations of 15 national organizations for revising specific NCLB requirements and provisions. The database synthesizes and analyzes the recommendations across 16 issues, including growth models for calculating Adequate Yearly Progress.
Hot Air: How States Inflate Their Educational Progress Under NCLB
Hot Air: How States Inflate Their Educational Progress Under NCLB, a report published by the Washington, D.C.-based Education Sector, contends states are gaming the system under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the 2002 law that measures states’ annual progress toward getting all students proficient in reading and math by 2014. The report creates an index based on 11 data measures that states submitted to the U.S. Department of Education, such as high school graduation rates, high school dropout rates, number of violent schools, and the percentage of students, schools, and districts performing well under NCLB.