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The task force will make reports to the 1983 annual meetings of the Education
Commission of the States (Denver, July 20-23) and the National Governors
Association (Maine, July 31-August 2).

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The following donors have provided support for the task force. Additional
contributions would be most appreciated.
Control Data Corporation

Kellogg Foundation
Texas Instruments

Aetna Life and Casulty Insurance

Ford Motor Co.
Dow Chemical

American Association for the Advancement
of Science

Additional information can be obtained from:

Dr. Robert Andringa
Executive Director, ECS
1860 Lincoln St., Suite 300
Denver, CO 80295
(303) 830-3620

Dr. Roy Forbes
Associate Executive Director, ECS
(303) 830-3768

Ms. Betty Owen
Policy Advisor
Governor's Office, Raleigh, NC
(919) 733-6320

Revised 2/16/83


No. SY-CA-50

an exploratory paper by

Rexford Brown Education Commission of the States

1860 Lincoln Street, Suite 300

Denver, Colorado 80295

December 1982

The National Assessment of Educational Progress is funded by the National Institute of Education. It is under contract with the Education Commission of the States. It is the policy of the Education Commission of the states to take affirmative action to prevent discrimination in its policies, programs and employment practices.



The National Assessment of Educational Progress is an education research project mandated by Congress to collect and report data, over time, the performance of young Americans in various learning areas. National Assessment makes available information assessment procedures and materials


state and local education agencies and others. The work upon which

this publication is based was performed pursuant to Grant No. NIE-G-80-0003 of the National Institute of Education. It does not, however, necessarily reflect the views of that agency.



since the National Assessment began in the late sixties, considerable energy has been devoted to methodological and technical aspects of assessment design, item development, sampling procedures and analytic strategies. During the seventies, many states created their

assessments and turned to NAEP for technical advice, assessment materials and networks such as the Large Scale Assessment Conference, where they could share technical concerns and expertise. Procedural and methodological matters understandably overshadowed utility questions until only a few years ago. But questions about how NAEP information -- or any assessment information - is used or might be used by a variety of education actors and decision makers have grown increasingly pressing as the project's importance and visibility have grown.

of particular interest because it affects school participation in the assessment and participation affects the accuracy of assessment results -- has been the utility of NAEP results for schools and school districts. How can national and regional data - necessarily abstract and removed from day-to-day realities of any particular school -- 'have any significant impact upon classroom practices?

This special study addresses that question. Unlike other special studies (e.g., "Students from Homes in which a Language other than English Dominates"), this paper does not showcase a secondary analysis of NAEP data. Rather, it represents "repackaging' of existing data to answer some common questions about educational achievement, to relate the findings to past and future educational policy decisions and to raise questions for future research efforts.



The purpose of the paper is to provide a busy education leader with "skeleton key" to the NAEP data base : a short overview of intriguing findings organized around topics likely to come up in speeches, articles briefings. The arbitrary selection of findings and the interpretive judgments about them are the responsibility of the author only. Readers are encouraged to form their own opinions about the significance of these findings and are given specific references to the reports from which the findings derive, in case they want to pursue something to a deeper level of detail. We expect this paper to grow as additional findings are offered by other readers.

Many of the answers to questions and the recommendations for action in this paper could be buttressed through reference to research findings about learning in reading, writing, mathematics and science, as well as research on effective teaching and effective schools. As a next step, we will be indexing findings and interpretations to appropriate research, looking for convergence and divergence of views. Having done that, we intend to extrapolate those findings of greatest utility to two policy groups with great influence upon the classroom: curriculum guide writers and textbook selectors. We have already begun to learn exactly how and when each group uses various kinds of information, and we will be working with them during 1983 to perfect a model that satisfies their needs.

In the meantime, here is a paper that offers easy access to a huge data base, some food for thought and some recommendations for action. We invite reader response and welcome any insights or observations that would improve the effectiveness of this kind of effort.

Beverly Anderson
National Assessment of

Educational Progress

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