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Digital Transition Delays NAEP Reading, Math Results Until Spring

Do you have the odd feeling you've missed something? No, not the annual rerun of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. No, it's not your anniversary (well, I hope not, for the sake of your relationship). And no, it's not the release of the Nation's Report Card, which was due to come out this month. 

The most recent reading and math results on the exam, also known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, will be delayed until March or April of next year, according to a spokesman at the National Center for Education Statistics. This includes both the national and the state-by-state results.

The culprit seems to be the wrinkles caused by transitioning NAEP from a paper-and-pencil exam to one that's given on tablets or digital devices. 

It turns out that administering tests in different formats can alter the construct, or what's being measured, in not-insignificant ways. For example, in the first year that a bunch of states used the exams created by the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers, or PARCC, students who took that test digitally had lower scores on average than those who took it on paper.

One of NAEP's most important features is its trend line, which tracks the results of the exam over a length of time. So NCES, which analyzes all the NAEP results, and the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets the policy for the test, are being extra careful this year around conducting studies to make sure the results are accurate and can be compared. 

NAGB issued a short two-pager yesterday that addresses some of these concerns.  

"Extensive research, with careful, detailed, sophisticated analyses by national experts about how the digital transition affects comparisons to previous results is ongoing and has not yet concluded," it says.

The situation a bit different than NAEP's prior forays into computerized testing. Its shift to measuring writing digitally, in 2011, also coincided with a new framework for that exam, so it began a new trend line for the subject.

NCES is planning to roll out more information on the delay and the steps it's taking to ensure the accuracy of the scores over the next week or so. We'll keep you posted.

For more on NAEP and computer testing:

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