Education Week’s annual Quality Counts report is out, and all sorts of state leaders in Kentucky are hooting and hollering about how the state moved up 20 places in overall state rankings.
Considering the state only got a “C+” score, that isn’t saying much. But, the real problems run much deeper.
Quality Counts rankings are based in notable measure on 2011 National Assessment of Education (NAEP) reading test results for fourth and eighth graders. Quality Counts makes absolutely NO correction for the grim fact that Kentucky led the nation for the proportion of its fourth and eighth grade students with learning disabilities that got excluded from even taking the NAEP reading assessments. In fact, if the report even mentions the issue, it is buried somewhere that so far I have not been able to find.
However, not everyone is so uninformed.
While our state leaders are carrying on about how well we did in a ranking heavily dependent upon NAEP reading scores, the fact is that many people are starting to seriously question the validity of those Kentucky scores (examples here).
Consider this – How can Kentucky’s reading education be doing so well when our schools had to exclude eight times the percentage of learning disabled fourth grade students that good old Mississippi excluded – EIGHT TIMES! How come so many of our kids are so badly off that they couldn’t even sit for a reading test in fourth grade when almost all the students in Mississippi at least were well enough along with reading to try the NAEP?
Common, Education Week (Quality Counts creator), you owe us something a bit better. Your reporters need to read this informational discussion about pitfalls in NAEP interpretation. You tripped over several of them with your new report.
By the way, I am presenting a paper on NAEP pitfalls this coming Tuesday in Florida.
Education Week will make an interesting example of how these pitfalls are a major problem found in even some of the best reporting sources available in the education world.