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Diane Ravitch’s Blog: NAEP Will Collect Data on Grit and Other Unquantifiable Traits

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has been measuring national samples of students in grades 4 and 8 (and sometimes 12) since the early 1970s. It has been measuring state samples since 1992, and began assessing a few urban districts in 2003. It assesses students every two years in reading and math, and every several years in history, science, civics, and other subjects.

NAEP has always collected background information, which is self-reported about students’ reading habits, television viewing time, teacher practices, and other quantifiable aspects of tea hing and learning.

Now, NAEP will add grit, motivation, and mindset to the background information collected.

It will be interesting to see how these noncognitive traits are measured. Will students judge their own grit? Are they good judges of their grit? Will we someday know which states and cities have students with the most grit? And once we know, will officials create courses in how to improve grit?

I am reminded of a strange finding that emerged from international background questions two decades ago. Students were asked if they were good in math. Students in nations with the highest test scores said they were not very good in math; students in nations where test scores were middling thought they were really good at math.

What does it all mean? I don’t know, but it satisfies someone’s need for more data.

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Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education. She is the Co-Founder and President of the Network for Publi...