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2012 Charleston

The Nation's Report Card and 12th Grade Academic Preparedness: A Regional Symposium

December 3, 2012
Charleston, W.Va

The NAEP 12th Grade Preparedness Commission hosted a symposium in Charleston, W.Va., to discuss the NAEP research on 12th-grade academic preparedness and the feasibility of The Nation’s Report Card’s serving as an indicator for preparedness. The Charleston event, which brought together regional leaders in K–12 and higher education, business, civil rights, and legislative policy, was the sixth in a series and followed events in BostonJackson, Miss.Nashville, Tenn.Sacramento, Calif.; and Tallahassee , Fla.

A  panel  of noted local experts assessed the implications of 12th-grade academic preparedness for West Virginia’s economy and jobs and discussed the potential relevance of NAEP as an indicator of preparedness for West Virginia and the nation.

Presiding over the symposium was the Honorable Ronnie Musgrove, former governor of Mississippi and chair of the NAEP 12th Grade Preparedness Commission.

Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Jay Rockefeller (via video) delivered opening addresses to attendees from the perspective of national legislators.

Lloyd Jackson, member of the West Virginia Board of Education and chair of the NAEP Business Policy Task Force, and Ray Fields, assistant director for policy and research of the National Assessment Governing Board, presented information about NAEP and the preparedness research.

Charles K. Heinlein, West Virginia superintendent of schools; Brian O. Hemphill, president of West Virginia State University; and Paul L. Hill, chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, represented the perspective of education leaders during the panel discussion. J. Thomas Jones, president and CEO of the West Virginia United Health System, represented the business perspective. Senator Bob Plymale and Delegate Mary Poling spoke from the perspective of state legislators.

Observations made by panelists and attendees include:

  • Policymakers need objective, “unfiltered” data to make informed decisions about education; NAEP is a valuable source of those data.

  • West Virginia can use 12th-grade NAEP to gauge the validity of next-generation standards and tests—including Common Core and the Smarter Balanced assessments—as the state works to adopt these.

  • NAEP data are invaluable, but, having that data, as well as data from other tests and other sources, it is up to state leaders to translate that information into action—whether to inform classroom instruction, guide allocation of resources, develop content standards, or design professional development and teacher pre-service training.

  • The NAEP preparedness research will be valuable to K–12 educators in helping to align curriculum and pedagogy to the expectations of college and career, and valuable to postsecondary institutions to understand entering students’ challenges so that they can allocate necessary resources to address them.

  • It would be valuable if NAEP data could be interpreted to pinpoint what successful states and districts are doing well, so that other states and districts can learn from their efforts.

  • Standard-setting studies of job training programs would be relevant for West Virginia employers.

  • Increased granularity in the reporting of NAEP data—including more detailed analysis of STEM skills, for example—could help educators differentiate training programs for specific occupations.

  • As it is not the place of the Governing Board to attribute causal factors in academic achievement, the Board should consider partnering with an organization that will interpret NAEP data to identify factors central to student success.

For a complete record of the morning's conversation, see the symposium transcript.

To view media coverage from the event, visit these links:

"State education officials favor assessing seniors," Charleston Daily Mail

"Education symposium targets student preparedness," The Charleston Gazette

"Educators gather in Charleston to discuss the progress of West Virginia’s students," WCHS-TV8

"Opinion: Assessing the preparedness of 12th-graders makes sense," The Herald-Dispatch

NAEP—the National Assessment of Educational Progress—is also known as The Nation’s Report Card. Congressionally authorized and funded since 1969, NAEP reports to the public on the status and progress of student achievement in core subjects at grades 4, 8, and 12.

The National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees NAEP, is conducting a comprehensive program of research to transform NAEP into an indicator of 12th-grade academic preparedness for college and job training.

NAEP is uniquely positioned to serve as this indicator because it is the only source of nationally representative student achievement data at the 12th grade.

The Governing Board’s research program, now in its first phase, involves more than 30 planned studies. The purpose of the research is to identify the reading and mathematics skills and knowledge, as measured by NAEP, needed to qualify, without remediation, for first-year college courses or job training.

Research results so far are promising. A report on the first phase of the research program is expected in early 2013.

An overview of the research program can be found here.

Summaries of completed research studies can be found here.