Using State Assessments to Assign Booklets to NAEP Students to Minimize Measurement Error: An Empirical Study in Four States

Donald H. McLaughlin, Beth A. Scarloss, Frances B. Stancavage, and Charles D. Blankenship

Because NAEP estimates of state-level achievement play an important role in the evaluation of strategies for improving the nation’s educational system, it is important that these estimates have as small a standard error as possible.

For this study, the records of participants in the 2003 NAEP reading and mathematics assessments in four states were matched to state assessment records, and the standard errors of lowest and highest quartile students, based on the state assessments, were compared for all of the existing NAEP item blocks.

Five research questions guided this study:

  1. How different are the difficulties of blocks on existing NAEP reading and mathematics assessments?
  2. Can state assessments identify potentially low achievers on NAEP?
  3. Are standard errors affected by block difficulties; specifically, are the standard errors for predicted low-achieving students smaller when they are assigned a booklet with an easy block?
  4. What is the impact of easier blocks on the standard errors for NAEP’s demographic reporting groups?
  5. What other factors, such as completion rate or block position may also influence standard errors for low-achieving students?