NCES announces delay of NAEP assessments until 2022

State education chiefs applauded the decision to postpone the NAEP given the disruptions caused by COVID-19
By: | November 25, 2020

The National Center for Education Statistics announced Nov. 25 that it will postpone the National Assessment of Educational Progress until 2022 in response to COVID-19.

“Due to the impact of the COVID pandemic on school operations, it will not be possible for NCES to conduct the National Assessment of Educational Progress assessments in accordance with the statutory requirements defined by the Education Sciences Reform Act, which requires NAEP to be conducted in a valid and reliable manner every 2 years,” wrote James Woodworth, commissioner of NCES.

Woodworth said the number of students that are distance learning or attending schools that limit outside visitors due to COVID-19 led him to determine that “NCES cannot at this time conduct a national-level assessment in a manner with sufficient validity and reliability.”

NAEP tracks the performance of students in core academic subjects and produces a national survey of students’ achievements over time, known as the nation’s “report card.” ESEA Section 1111(g)(2)(D) requires states to make an assurance that they will participate in the biennial NAEP assessment of fourth- and eighth-grade students in reading and math. ESEA Section 1112(c)(3) requires local educational agencies, if selected, to participate in the biennial NAEP assessments for reading and math in fourth and eighth grades. NAEP assessments for math and reading were last conducted in 2019.

Woodworth wrote that the decision to delay “the next NAEP assessment to early 2022 will reduce the burden this year on schools, allowing time for the states to conduct their own state assessments this spring.”

The National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP, expressed support for the decision. “We are in full agreement with the decision by the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics to cease preparation for the NAEP 2021 assessments in reading and mathematics for grades 4 and 8, scheduled to start in January 2021, and to reschedule the assessment to 2022,” said Haley Barbour, chair of NAGB, and Alice Peisch, vice-chair of NAGB, in a statement.

State education chiefs also applauded the decision to postpone NAEP.

“We support the decision by the National Center for Education Statistics Commissioner to postpone the administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress until 2022,” said Carissa Moffat Miller, CEO of the Council of Chief State School Officers in a statement. “I recognize this was not an easy decision, but I believe it is the right one based on what we know today about this virus and its impact on schools.” –Charles Hendrix covers education funding and other Title I issues for LRP Publications.