The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has measured the condition and progress of education since 1969 to provide information on performance of American students in core subjects to policymakers, educators, and the public. Yet, there has been a perception that theses federal resources are under utilized. An analysis of the NAEP website revealed that NAEP data could be utilized to inform state-level education and policy decisions in multiple ways. However, there is a very limited empirical base on the actual uses of NAEP. Today, NAEP data and resources are easier to access through the Web and the NCLB’s mandate that states participate in biennial state NAEP in reading and mathematics at grades 4 and 8 has drawn greater attention to state NAEP.
In this context, it was speculated that easier access to NAEP data and the NCLB requirement for states might facilitate the use of NAEP at the state level. This case study was intended to verify the assumption by investigating how state education personnel in US State perceive the usefulness of NAEP and how NAEP data are actually used in a state context. Data were collected through interviews, documents, and relevant websites.
This study found that in relation to NAEP’s potential utility, the use of NAEP at the state level is limited. The use focused primarily on disseminating NAEP information in the state and considering NAEP frameworks when revising the state’s standards.
Nonetheless, the findings of this study suggest that more NAEP data are currently used in US State than before and that the increased use has been more affected by NCLB than by the improved availability of NAEP data.
There appear to be several possible reasons for the limited use of NAEP by the state. Firstly, the state education personnel do not necessarily have an in-depth understanding of diverse aspects of the NAEP program and some of them might have limited knowledge of statistics. In addition, the National Center for Education Statistics sometimes does not provide enough of relevant information along with NAEP results in reporting to facilitate the use and correct interpretations of the results.
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