Alexandra Beatty and Judith A. Koenig, Rapporteurs
Steering Committee on Workshop on Key National Education Indicators
Board on Testing and Assessment
Committee on National Statistics
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This study was supported by Contract No. 11-98169-000-USP between the National Academy of Sciences and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The study was also supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and by the Presidents’ Fund of the National Research Council. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
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International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-26121-X
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Copyright 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2012). Key National Education Indicators: Workshop Summary. Steering Committee on Workshop on Key National Education Indicators, A. Beatty and J.A. Koenig, Rapporteurs. Board on Testing and Assessment and Committee on National Statistics, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.
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COMMITTEE ON WORKSHOP ON KEY NATIONAL EDUCATION INDICATORS
David W. Breneman (Chair), Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Elaine Allensworth, Consortium on Chicago School Research, University of Chicago
Henry Braun, Lynch School of Education, Boston College
Allan Collins, School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University
Mark Dynarski, Chesapeake Research Associates, Annapolis, MD
Lisa Lynch, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
Diana Pullin, School of Education, Boston College
Ana Sol Gutierrez, Maryland House of Delegates
Robert Warren, Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota
Judith A. Koenig, Study Director
Stuart W. Elliott, Director, Board on Testing and Assessment
Alexandra Beatty, Senior Program Officer
Kelly Iverson, Senior Program Assistant
BOARD ON TESTING AND ASSESSMENT
Edward Haertel (Chair), School of Education, Stanford University
Lyle Bachman, Department of Applied Linguistics and TESOL, University of California, Los Angeles
Stephen Dunbar, College of Education, University of Iowa
David J. Francis, Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics, University of Houston
Michael Kane, Test Validity, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey
Kevin Lang, Department of Economics, Boston University
Michael Nettles, Policy Evaluation and Research Center, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ
Diana C. Pullin, School of Education, Boston College
Brian Stecher, Education Program, The RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA
Mark Wilson, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley
Rebecca Zwick, Research and Development, Educational Testing Service, Santa Barbara, CA
Stuart W. Elliott, Director
COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL STATISTICS
Lawrence D. Brown (Chair), Department of Statistics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
John M. Abowd, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University
Alicia Carriquiry, Department of Statistics, Iowa State University
William DuMouchel, Oracle Health Sciences, Waltham, Massachusetts
V. Joseph Hotz, Department of Economics, Duke University
Michael Hout, Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley
Karen Kafadar, Department of Statistics, Indiana University
Sallie Keller, IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute, Washington, DC
Lisa Lynch, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
Sally C. Morton, Department of Biostatistics, University of Pittsburgh
Joseph Newhouse, Division of Health Policy Research and Education, Harvard University
Ruth D. Peterson, Department of Sociology and Criminal justice Research Center, Ohio State University
Hal Stern, School of Information and Computer Sciences, University of California, Irvine
John H. Thompson, National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago
Roger Tourangeau, Westat, Rockville, MD
Alan Zaslavsky, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School
Constance F. Citro, Director
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The education system in the United States is continually challenged to adapt and improve, in part because its mission has become far more ambitious than it once was. At the turn of the 20th century, fewer than one-tenth of students enrolled were expected to graduate from high school, and it was only in the 1960s that the expectation that all students would graduate became widespread (National Research Council, 2001). Today, most people expect schools to prepare all students to succeed in postsecondary education and to prosper in a complex, fast-changing global economy. Goals have broadened to include not only rigorous benchmarks in core academic subjects, but also technological literacy and the subtler capacities known as 21st century skills.
As these changes have taken place, education research has become increasingly clear in pointing to some of the key elements that make teaching and learning successful, and educators and leaders are under intense pressure to apply this knowledge every day in improving schools.
These high expectations mean that the American public has pressing questions about how well students are learning and how well schools are doing. Existing measures reveal some uncomfortable though important truths about gaps in student achievement and schools that are not succeeding, and they also highlight areas of considerable strength. But existing measures do not provide answers to all the questions that have been raised.
To identify the most important measures for education and other issues and provide quality data on them to the American people, Congress has authorized the creation of a Key National Indicators System (KNIS). This system would be a single web-based information source designed to help policy makers and the public better assess the position and progress of the nation across a wide range of areas.
Identifying the right set of indicators for each area is not a small challenge. To serve their purpose of providing objective information that can encourage improvement and innovation, the indicators need to be valid and reliable but they also need to capture our aspirations for education. They need to take advantage of wisdom that has been developed over many years of research and practice. They also must anticipate the changes taking place as innovation and technology reshape education in this country and around the world. They need to focus on what is most important but also to capture sophisticated aspects of intellectual development, and the complex interactions among individuals, families, communities, school systems, and public policy. Perhaps most important, they need to effectively communicate specific information about how well the U.S. education system is doing.
This report describes a workshop, planned under the aegis of the Board on Testing and Assessment and the Committee on National Statistics, and funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Presidents’ Fund of the National Research Council.
The workshop was designed as an opportunity for a group with extensive experience in research, public policy, and practice could begin the process of sorting through possible indicators and considering possibilities for developing new ones. The goal of the workshop was not to make a final selection of indicators, but to make an important first step by clearly identifying the parameters of the challenge. On behalf of the steering committee, I hope this report will be the stimulus for further thinking on this important issue.
Many people contributed to the success of this workshop. We first thank the sponsors, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for their support of this work. We also thank the Presidents’ Committee of the National Research Council. for its support. We sincerely appreciate all of the insights provided by Chris Hoenig, senior advisor to the presidents of the National Academies and CEO of the State of the USA.
The steering committee also thanks the scholars who wrote papers and made presentations at the workshop: Judith Alamprese, Abt Associates; Steven Barnett, Rutgers University; Margaret Burchinal, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Kevin Dougherty, Columbia University; Emerson Elliott, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education; Ronald Ferguson, Harvard University; Eugene García, Arizona State University; Brian Gill, Mathematica; Patricia Graham, Harvard University; Joseph Kahne, Mills College; Laura Perna, University of Pennsylvania; Robert Pianta, University of Virginia; Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, MDRC; Donald Roberts, Stanford University; Sue Sheridan, Nebraska University; Marshall S. Smith, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; Elizabeth Stage, Lawrence Hall; David Stern, University of California at Berkeley; Patrick Terenzini, Pennsylvania State University; Bill Tierney, University of Southern California; and Deborah Vandell, University of California at Irvine. We are especially indebted to Emerson Elliott and Norman Bradburn, with the National Opinion Research Center, for sharing their papers and providing helpful input during all stages of this project. We also thank John Ralph, with the U.S. Department of Education, for providing historical information about prior efforts to identify education indicators.
The steering committee also thanks the National Research Council staff who worked directly on this project. Judith Koenig, study director, served tirelessly in helping to assemble panelists, structure the order of presentations, and define the issues for discussion. Without her persistent efforts, the workshop could not have happened. Stuart Elliott, BOTA director, provided insightful contributions in helping to formulate the design of the workshop and make it a reality. Kelly Iverson, senior project assistant, provided her deft organizational skills and careful attention to detail to help to ensure the success of the workshop. We particularly wish to recognize Alix Beatty, senior program officer, for her superb writing skills and ability to translate workshop presentations and discussions into a coherent, readable report.
Finally, as chair of the steering committee, I thank the members for their dedication and outstanding contributions to this project. They gave generously of their time in planning the workshop and participated actively in workshop presentations and discussions. Their varied experiences and perspectives contributed immeasurably to the success of the project and made them a delightful set of colleagues for this work.
This workshop summary has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the National Research Council. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: W. Steven Barnett, National Institute for Early Education Research, Rutgers University; Rolf Blank, Research, Education Indicators, Council of Chief State School Officers; Christopher T. Cross, Chairman’s Office, Cross & Joftus, LLC; Kevin J. Dougherty, Teacher’s College, Columbia University; Ronald F. Ferguson, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; James P. Gee, Division of Education Leadership and Innovation, Arizona State University; Brian Gill, Senior Fellow, Mathematica Policy Research; and Marshall S. Smith, Education Policy, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of the report nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Lorraine McDonnell, Department of Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara. Appointed by the National Research Council, she was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authors and the institution.
David Breneman, Chair
Steering Committee on Workshop on Key National Education Indicators
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