NEPC Review: Lessons From State Performance on NAEP: Why Some High-Poverty Students Score Better Than Others (Center for American Progress , January 2016)
This Center for American Progress report examines whether states’ adoption of standards-based policies predicts low-income students’ NAEP achievement trends in fourth and eighth grade math and reading throughout the 2003-2013 decade. The report claims to analyze changes across five separate two-year intervals, but it only reports findings for 2009-2011, with no explanation of why or any documentation of the representativeness of that single interval. The reported finding for the selected interval is that state adoption of standards policies positively predicts fourth (but not eighth) grade math NAEP and eighth (but not fourth) grade reading NAEP. Even these selected positive results are statistically significant only at the generally unacceptable 0.10 level of significance. The report includes effect sizes but nothing about the percent of the variance explained in their model. In short, the report does not adequately describe variables or analytic methods or completely report findings, and the data and methods used do not allow for any causal findings. They use state standards adoption across grade levels and subject areas as well as selected accountability mandates as predictors but fail to assess their quality or fidelity of implementation. Yet based on these very problematic and limited analyses, the authors conclude that their analysis “strongly supports the potential of the Common Core to drive improvements in educational outcomes.” The study simply does not support this conclusion or the set of recommendations that follow.