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Response to Changing Assessment Needs: Redesign of the National Assessment of Educational Progress

Messick, Samuel J.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Academic Achievement, Achievement Tests, National Assessment of Educational Progress, Research Design


To improve the interpretability, comparability, timeliness, and policy relevance of the results within fixed budgets, the new design for NAEP moves to a biennial schedule assessing four subject-matter areas in each wave. Reading is assessed in every wave to provide timely reporting of trends in a basic area and to calibrate alternate cohorts; writing is assessed every other wave (4 years), as are math and science in alternate waves. In addition to the traditional assessment of 9-, 13-, and 17-year olds, sampling is expanded to permit reporting of the associated modal grades (with redefined age definitions, the grades are 3, 7, and 11). There are thus four years intervening between subject assessments, age levels, and grade levels, thereby introducing a systematic cohort matching procedure. Balanced-incomplete spiralling of exercises, as well as of background and program variables, permits the estimation of intercorrelations among all variables. This facilitates dimensional analyses within and across subject areas; item-response scaling to improve comparability of scale meaning across ages, population groups, and time periods; and, the examination and structural analysis of various policy relevant correlates of educational performance. (28pp.)

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