"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Eternal Failure of a NAEP Mind

After Sandy Banks in the Los Angeles Times stated, "We see what we are looking for—and that sends a message to students at schools like Jordan. They know we don't expect much of them," David B. Cohen replied:
"Do you think that the same lesson applies to the public, or journalists, or legislators, and the messages they send to the faculty and staff at struggling schools? I don’t mean to make excuses for anyone, but is it possible that an honest assessment of the challenges they face should include the burden of social apathy, distrust, even hostility? I know a lot of teachers and more than a few administrators, and you can probably infer from my question what I think the answer is."
In that context, what message does this drumbeat of NAEP-related stories and headlines send from Education Week?
Most 8th Graders Fall Short on NAEP Science Test (May 10, 2012) 
NAEP Scores Still Stalled for Native American Students (July 3, 2012) 
NAEP Shows Most Students Lack Writing Proficiency (September 14, 2012) 
NAEP Data on Vocabulary Achievement Show Same Gaps (December 6, 2012)
Wow, U.S. schools and students are horrible, right?

Standardized test scores remain primarily markers of the socioeconomic status of a student's home, and thus, continued, revised, or intensified testing and then reporting of those test outcomes are both tremendous wastes of time and funding as well as sources for the eternal misrepresentation of test data, schools, teachers, and students.

High or low test scores can mean thousands of things, and quite often do mean so many things that a headline necessarily distorts that data.

But the single-minded media fascination with all test scores showing something horrible about our schools is evidence enough that "we see what we are looking for," especially when numbers are involved.

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