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Talking About The Nation's Report Card: 2001 Geography results.

Peggy Carr Hello, and welcome to today's StatChat on the NAEP 2001 Geography results for the nation. I hope you've had time to look at the results on the website. I'm sure that you have many questions regarding today's Geography release, so let's get right to them...

Todd from Towson University, Maryland asked:
I am delighted to learn that the average composite NAEP geography score for 4th-grade Black students improved from 1994 to 2001. What other variables correlated with 4th-grade Black student composite scores?
Peggy Carr: Hi Todd, The NAEP assessment has a number of background questions, including those related to classroom instruction that might provide some indication of other key relationships. Check the NAEP online data analysis tool to examine these relationships GOOD LUCK! PEGGY

Thomas from Washington, D.C. asked:
I was just at the press conference. Can you please clarify the connection between gender and the Geography scores? Dr. Phillips' comment about gender (sorry, I don't remember his exact words) didn't make sense to me, based on the slide he was showing. Weren't the boys scores consistently higher than the girls?
Peggy Carr: Thomas, Sorry for the confusion. Males students outperformed female students at all three grades in 2001 just as they had in 1994. The trend increase was not significant for either gender nor did the gap change. Peggy

Charles from Richmond, VA asked:
To what would you attribute the improved performance of fourth and eighth-grade students?
Peggy Carr: Charles, Lower performing students improved at both grades and Black students at grade 4 also improved. NAEP can not attribute the results to specific causes, but a number of instructional variables were associated with these changes. Again check the NAEP online data analysis tool for the specifics. Peggy

Garry from Falls Church, VA asked:
I heard about this study and release just recently. I am a new to the education world. My question is: Does the Department of Education provide or help design material for teachers to help them with their class plans? FCCPS # 1
Peggy Carr: Garry, The program does not produce specific materials for classroom teachers. However many teachers find the released items, which include sample responses and scoring rubrics helpful. The released items are on the NAEP website. Peggy

Ralph from New Jersey asked:
In comparing the geography results to the results from the NAEP history assessment released a month or two ago, I notice that students' average scores are nearly identical on the two tests. But when I look at the achievement level results for the two subjects, students seem to be doing much better in geography than in history. Can you please explain these differences?
Peggy Carr: Ralph, While the history and geography scale scores use the same 500 point range, they are in fact not intended to be comparable. The achievement levels are set independently for the two subjects. The achievement levels are based on what students should know and be able to do in each subject. Peggy

Albert from Philadelphia, PA asked:
Are computers being used more in the classroom? Do they help kids do better?
Peggy Carr: Albert, The findings indicate that students who use CD- ROMs and the internet at grades 4 and 8 for their social studies projects, performed better than those who did not. Peggy

Devon from Los Angeles, CA asked:
It is encouraging to know that Black students are achieving better results in Geography! Am I correct in understanding that this improvement was only statistically significant among the 4th graders assessed, not in 8th or 12th graders? Am I also correct in recalling that similar results were discovered during NAEP's recent History assessment?
Peggy Carr: Devon, Yes, the increase in scores for Black students was only significant for 4th grade. The same findings were noted for the history assessment. Peggy

Thomas from Boston, MA asked:
How would I know whether my kids were a part of the NAEP Geography test? Who actually administers the test? (i.e. hands out the booklets, monitors the time, etc.)
Peggy Carr: Thomas, NAEP assessments are administered conforming to each school district's policy on parental notification. The NAEP contractor administers the assessment. Peggy

Elizabeth from Fairfax, VA asked:
I am looking at p. 12 of the "Geography Highlights." I don't understand why students would be tested on geography's role in international conflicts. Isn't that largely a political question?
Peggy Carr: Elizabeth, The NAEP Geography assessment covers a wide range of content as delineated by the NAGB framework. One content area called spatial dynamics and connections specifies knowledge of "the movement of people, patterns of trade, and conflict." Peggy

Scott from Cleveland, Ohio asked:
With only 2 of 10 fourth-graders, 3 of 10 eighth-graders and one of 4 high school senior reaching a proficient level, it would seem as though we have a long way to go. Your thoughts?
Peggy Carr: Scott, You are absolutely right! We still have a long way to go. But remember the achievement levels set for the NAEP do represent challenging performance standards. Peggy

Jeff from Atlanta, Ga asked:
It is evident how a state or district can use the Geography results, but how can the administration and staff at the local school use NAEP geography results?
Peggy Carr: Jeff, Local schools might find the released NAEP items useful in connection with their own classroom work. Teachers also find the NAGB frameworks informative. The frameworks are available at Peggy

Alfred from Syracuse, NY asked:
Why can't you give me some specifics? Is this a scavenger hunt?
Peggy Carr: Alfred, I want to be helpful. What would you like specifics on? Peggy

Joanne from Annapolis, MD asked:
I am finishing school to become a 4th grade teacher. I want to know how I can be of service to my students, making sure I do my small part to improve the overall educational achievement of our nation's youth. Where might I begin to better coordinate my own standards with those assessed in The Nation's Report Card? Is it useful for me to review "NAGB" literature? I am thinking about b/c of the Geography results, but since I'm teaching 4th graders, I'm curious to know about all subjects. Thanks for your help!
Peggy Carr: Joanne, I suggest that you consult the full description of the NAGB achievement levels provided in each report card. The report cards for all subjects are available on our website. You might also find the NAGB framework publications helpful available on Peggy

Meg from D.C. asked:
Dr. Carr, what is your own background? I might want to pursue educational assessment.
Peggy Carr: Meg, I have a Ph.D. in developmental psychology. I trained specifically in statistics and research methods. I've been in the field of assessment for over 15 years. Many schools have graduate programs in educational measurement which is most closely related to assessment. Check our website for information about the NCES/University of Maryland certificate program in large-scale assessment. Good luck! Peggy I have time for one more question.

Mo from Boise, Idaho asked:
Is there any way I can get in touch with the authors of the report?
Peggy Carr: Mo, Andrew Weiss the author, is available at You may also contact Arnold Goldstein at NCES: Anyone can get the all the results at NAEP's geography page. Peggy Thanks everyone for participating!

Thanks for all the excellent questions. Unfortunately, I could not get to all of them, but please feel free to contact members of the NAEP staff, if you need further assistance. I hope that you found this session to be helpful and the reports to be interesting.

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