Lessons for the National Assessment of Educational Progress from military standard setting

by Lawrence M. Hanser

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The U.S. military services have a long history of setting and using standards. It is important to understand how military and education contexts differ if one is to transfer any standard-setting lessons from the military to the public education sector. First, the military system regularly rotates personnel from operational to training positions and back again. This provides a natural feedback loop along which information is passed to assist the training establishment in knowing its successes and failures. Second, military standards are ultimately linked as closely as possible to real-world outcomes. Military standards matter, and especially so to trainers whose lives may later rely on the abilities of their former students. The major distinction and lesson to be learned from military experience is that to be useful, standards must be grounded in real-world outcomes that affect the lives of educators. National Assessment of Educational Progress standards currently appear to be lacking on both counts.

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Originally published in: Applied Measurement in Education, v. 11, no. 1, 1998, pp. 81-95.

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