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April 17, 2013
The National Education Association announced yesterday that they are filing a federal lawsuit on behalf of their Florida affiliate against the state department of education, challenging the way student test scores are used for teacher evaluation. The lawsuit alleges that the seven teachers named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit were evaluated on students and subjects they don’t teach.
April 9, 2013
As we approach the end of the school year, I’ve started to receive an increasing number of questions from partner schools and districts about how to interpret the growth of students. More specifically, these questions often center on how best to apply the 2011 student norms and/or the 2012 school norms to the achievement and growth information of their students, and when it is appropriate to use the student norms instead of the school norms, and vice versa.
April 4, 2013
Once considered a discriminatory practice, grouping students by academic ability appears to be trending upward, according to a recent study by the Brooking Institute’s Brown Center on Education Policy. Ability grouping involves segmenting classrooms according to student academic ability. Historically, ability grouping has come under fire, in part due to the high correlation between academic ability and factors such as social class and race.
March 12, 2013
This morning when I stepped on my bathroom scale and felt that familiar twinge of guilt and disappointment, I quickly reminded myself that bathroom scales are imperfect measuring devices. In all probability, my true weight falls within some range of possible values, centered roughly on the indicated weight. Quickly, I calculated how much less I wanted it to be. That value, I decided, must surely be the margin of error for my bathroom scale.
March 7, 2013
We often get questions from our partners about how to establish their testing calendar. Here are a few of those questions and our responses:
February 27, 2013
The one question I get asked most frequently from partners has to do with the accuracy of test scores, specifically in the context of whether a student has given appropriate effort on the test. This has always been of interest to users of our data, as they want to know if the RIT score a student receives accurately captures the student’s actual test performance. However, as an increasing number of schools are now using NWEA assessments for accountability purposes, the focus on the accuracy of test scores—and whether or not students are giving appropriate effort to ensure accurate test scores—is at the forefront of the minds of a lot of educators.
February 21, 2013
Even as costs continue to rise, the college degree is more important than ever. According to a recent New York Times article, even people holding entry-level positions (some paying as little as $10 per hour) hold four-year degrees. These positions include secretaries, file clerks and office runners.
The article goes on to state this phenomena, known as “degree inflation”, may be one reason the unemployment rate for high school graduates is nearly double that of college graduates. Seems like a good incentive to stay the course and finish college.
February 12, 2013
Last week, the U.S. Department of Education hosted a symposium meant to advance the administration’s effort of increasing the nation’s number of college graduates. The symposium featured research on how to better prepare students for the rigor of college coursework as well as best practices in advisement and mentorship to support students as they progress through higher education. The Department turns its attention to policy around college completion after the White House released a package of proposals designed to push colleges and states to make higher education more affordable.
February 7, 2013
Last month, the Gates Foundation published its third and final report in a series of studies designed to identify reliable and valid ways to identify measures of effective teaching (or MET). In a nutshell, they found that the most valid and reliable composite measures of teacher effectiveness included information gleaned from classroom observations of teaching, student performance data from standardized tests, and student-submitted teacher evaluation information. Furthermore, the best overall combination was found when each of these three sources contributed equally in weight to the composite measure.
January 29, 2013
We often get questions about whether a student’s growth is “good” or not. Unfortunately, it’s a question we at NWEA just can’t answer. Only you can.
I don’t want you to think we are avoiding some responsibility. The problem with this question is that what is “good” or “bad” is purely a value judgment. It’s an indication of the expectations your organization has for itself. What is appropriate for us to do, and we do it better all the time, is to provide some context around the data to support you coming to your own answer.