But there’s one set of facts that trumps all the other data: the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), otherwise known as the nation’s report card.
The NAEP, which assesses “a representative sampling” of the nation’s fourth-, eighth- and 12th-graders, has four student achievement levels: “advanced” (for “superior performance”), “proficient” (for “solid academic performance”), “basic” (for “partial mastery”) and “below basic” (for below partial mastery).
We need all students to attain the level of “proficient” or better.
So what does NAEP tell us about our nation’s eighth-graders, for example? Brace yourself for the bad news: In math, in 2011, 18 percent of our eighth-graders were assessed as below basic, 42 percent were basic, 33 percent were proficient and 7 percent were advanced. In reading, the results are even worse: 24 percent tested below basic, 42 were basic, 31 were proficient and 3 percent were advanced.
This is pretty damning evidence. [emphasis mine]Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong...
There is absolutely no informed reason to believe that all of our students should "attain the level of “proficient” or better" on the NAEP. None.From Diane Ravitch's Death and Life of the Great American School System (which, Mike, you really should read):As real experts like Dr. Ravitch and Ed Fuller and Gerald Bracey have written many times, "proficiency" on the NAEP does not mean "achieving at grade level." It is a much higher bar; everyone who knows anything about education statistics learns this early on.
The term "proficiency" - which is the goal of the law - is not the same as "minimal literacy." The term "proficiency" has been used since the early 1990s by the federal testing program, the National Assessment of Education Progress, where it connotes a very high level of academic achievement. (p. 102)
And is it too much to ask that the people who opine in our newspapers about our "horrible" schools know what the hell they are talking about?!
I need a drink...