The ‘nation’s report card’ says it assesses critical thinking in history

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tags: education, National Assessment of Educational Progress, NAEP

The National Assessment of Educational Progress is often referred to as “the nation’s report card” or the “gold standard” in student assessment because it is seen as the most consistent nationally representative measure of U.S. student achievement since the 1990s and because it is supposed to be able to assess what students “know and can do.”

It is administered every two years to groups of U.S. students in the fourth and eighth grades, and less frequently to high school students. (The test-takers are said to be randomly chosen within selected schools.)  Tests are given every two years in math and reading and less frequently in science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, technology and engineering literacy, and U.S. history.

NAEP results are highly anticipated in the education world and often seen as a benchmark for progress in school systems — even though the results are often misinterpreted (which you can read about here). When students score at the “proficient” level on NAEP, many take that to mean they are “proficient” at their grade level, but that isn’t the case, and the mistake makes for bad analysis of the results.

NAEP supporters say that the tests are able to measure skills that other standardized tests can’t: problem solving, critical thinking, etc. But this post takes issue with that notion. It was written by three Stanford University academics who are part of the Stanford History Education Group: Sam Wineburg, Mark Smith and Joel Breakstone.

Wineburg, an education and history professor in the Graduate School of Education, is the founder and executive director of the Stanford History Education Group and Stanford’s PhD program in education history. His research interests include assessment, civic education and literacy. Smith, a former high school social studies in Iowa, Texas and California, is the group’s director of assessment; his research is focused on K-12 history assessment, particularly on issues of validity and generalizability. And Breakstone, a former high school history teacher in Vermont, directs the Stanford History Education Group. His research focuses on how teachers use assessment data to form instruction.

The three led the development of the group’s assessment website, Beyond the Bubble.

Read entire article at The Washington Post

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