New report IDs problems with international school rankings

The report examines data on the effectiveness of state curriculum standards and reveals that:

•    The quality of state standards is not related to state achievement.
•    The rigor of state standards is also unrelated to achievement.
•    The ability of standards to reduce variation in achievement is also weak.

“If you look at the past history of how standards affect achievement, we conclude the Common Core will probably have very little effect,” Loveless said.

The achievement gap

The NAEP actually has two different tests—the Long-Term Trend NAEP and the Main NAEP. Loveless aims to determine if the two tests report similar achievement gaps and how these data might affect education policy.

The Main NAEP consistently reports larger socioeconomic status achievement gaps than the Long-Term Trend NAEP. The study examines gaps between students who qualify for free and reduced lunch and those who do not; black and white students; Hispanic and white students; and English language learners and students who are not English language learners.

Loveless argues: “The biggest discrepancy between the tests is with [English language learner] students. That suggests that the role language plays on the two tests—which is quite different, even in math—may be influencing the magnitude of the gaps.”

Content differences might be a factor in determining why the tests differ in measuring socioeconomic status achievement gaps.

“The Main NAEP was designed to assess different skills and concepts than the LTT NAEP, which had a nearly twenty-year track record when the Main NAEP was first launched in 1990. In math, for example, the LTT NAEP focuses more on computing with whole numbers and fractions; the Main NAEP on how students apply mathematics to solve problems. In reading, the LTT NAEP presents shorter passages, more vocabulary words in isolation, and more items asking students to identify the main idea of a passage. The Main NAEP has a broader selection of literary forms and asks students to compare multiple texts,” Loveless writes.

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