February 25, 2016

Sharon L. Nichols, (210) 458-2035, Sharon.Nichols@utsa.edu
Daniel Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

Report suggesting states "embrace" standard-based policies flawed, review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Feb. 25, 2016) – A report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) attempted to examine the impact of standards-based policies between 2003 and 2013. The report explored whether states' adoption of standards-based policies predicts low-income students' NAEP achievement trends in fourth and eighth grade math and reading. An academic review of the report finds the report to be weak and poorly presented. More importantly, the evidence presented does not support the claims made.

Sharon L. Nichols, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology, University of Texas at San Antonio, reviewed Lessons From State Performance on NAEP: Why Some High-Poverty Students Score Better Than Others for the National Education Policy Center's Think Twice think tank review project with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The report attempted to highlight that the difference between high and low scoring states was the adoption of high standards, specifically, the Common Core State Standards.

Nichols' review finds that it employs inappropriate research methods, fails to adequately define its approach, and reports only incomplete findings from its analyses. Additionally, according to the review, the report does not adequately describe variables or analytic methods, and the data and methods used do not allow for any causal findings.

The review also finds that while the report claims to analyze changes across five separate two-year intervals, it only reports findings for 2009-2011. And the positive results are statistically significant only at the generally unacceptable 0.10 level of significance.

In short, Nichols concludes that there are significant and fundamental flaws to the report. She adds, "This report does not add to discussions of policy or practice. Even if the omissions and shortcomings of this report were remedied, the analysis only provides a very narrow snapshot of how policy might connect to practice."

Read the full review at:

Find the report on the web:

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review can also be found on the NEPC website:

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/