Background and Purpose of the Study
Data and Sample
Mapping of State Standards Onto the NAEP Scale
NAEP reports student data in two ways: scale scores and achievement levels.
Each state designs its own assessments, sets its state-level proficiency standards, and reports the percentages of students who meet these standards in reading and mathematics. These standards are the points on the performance scale at which students reach proficient on the state assessment. The percentage of students reaching the proficient level is used by states to report adequate yearly progress (AYP) to the U.S. Department of Education under the 2001 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
The mapping study has three purposes:
Each state designs its own assessment and sets its own standards for fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics proficiency. Because the states use different standards for “proficiency”, state standards cannot be compared directly; they need to be placed on a common metric. NAEP provides the common metric.
States’ standards are compared using the NAEP scale equivalent score corresponding to a state’s standard.
Using the percentages of students reaching proficiency of standards of states who also participated in NAEP, a score point on NAEP scale for each state is identified. Mapping states’ proficiency standards onto a single measurement scale (in this case, NAEP) provides a basis for making comparisons of the states.
Analyses included in the 2009 study uses the several data sources for NAEP and state assessment results for grades 4 and 8:
Nebraska was not included because the state did not administer a statewide assessment. No data for grade 8 mathematics were available for California because the state does not test general mathematics at this grade level.
Some states other than Nebraska and California (see above) were not included in some subjects/grades for a variety of reasons. For example, the relevant data may not have been available for the 2005, 2007, and/or 2009 assessment year within a given state, the state may not have administered an assessment in the subject area covered in the study, or significant changes may have been made in state assessments between years (therefore making it inappropriate to compare NAEP and state measures of achievement changes from 2005 to 2009 or from 2007 to 2009).
A state’s NAEP scale equivalent is the score on the NAEP scale at which the percentage of the NAEP sample in the state scoring at or above that value matches the percentage of students in the state scoring proficient or higher on the state assessment. For example, if 45 percent of students in state score at or above proficient on the state assessment, the state’s NAEP scale equivalent will be the NAEP score at which exactly 45 percent of the state’s NAEP sample scores higher.
After mapping the state proficiency standards to the NAEP scale, it was found that most states’ standards for proficiency were at or below the NAEP Basic achievement level, meaning partial mastery of fundamental skills.
The standard for proficiency may be different among states. In some states, for example, proficient may mean that a student demonstrates minimum competency. Other states may set the level for proficiency as the standard for promotion to the next grade, or as the grade-level standard. By comparison, the NAEP Proficient achievement level is defined as competency over challenging subject matter.
No, student scores cannot be linked to the NAEP scale because NAEP does not generate reliable scores for individual students, only average scores for groups of students (e.g., males, females) within a jurisdiction (e.g., state, district).