This article investigates the adequacy of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for taking into account dissimilarities in students' family, school, and community contexts when reporting test score differences among population groups (i.e., racial and ethnic minorities). This question was addressed by comparing the NAEP to other representative data for Grades 8 and 12--the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS) and High School and Beyond (HSB)--that contain richer social context measures. The authors' analyses show that NAEP lacks a number of important social context measures and that the quality of some (but by no means all) of NAEP's measures is low because of reliance on student self-reports and other unreliable data sources. These weaknesses of NAEP have important practical imiplications: compared to HSB and NELS, NAEP usually overestimates the achievement differences between students who come from different population groups but similar social contexts. However, at the secondary school level at which these analyses were conducted, these overestimates primarily reflect NAEP's lack of important measures rather than its reliance on student self-reports.
Originally published in: Educational Assessment, v. 3, no. 3, 1995-1996, pp. 249-285.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Reprint series. The Reprint was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.
Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.