Education Week - December 12, 2012 - (Page 6)

6 EDUCATION WEEK n DECEMBER 12, 2012 n NAEP Seeks to Test New Measure of Student Poverty Proposed indicators go broader, deeper By Sarah D. Sparks Washington Aiming to get a clearer picture of how students’ home and community resources affect their academic achievement, America’s best-known K-12 education barometer, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, is building a comprehensive new way to gauge socioeconomic status. The new measure, being developed by the National Assessment Governing Board and the National Center for Education Statistics, is intended to look beyond a traditional measure of family income to a child’s family, community, and school supports for learning. “This issue has just been on the burner for so, so long,” said Maria V. Ferguson, the executive director of the Washington-based Center on Education Policy. “When nagb starts talking about it, that does elevate it to a place where it could be part of a bigger policy debate,” she said. “I wonder if the folks at nagb are hoping this could be an opening salvo into a bigger conversation about how [different ses measures] might affect other programs.” The governing board commis- Proposed new “core” SES indicators > Family income and indicators of home possessions and resources that have been shown to be linked to educational access, such as Internet availability and number of books in the home > Parents’ educational attainment > Parents’ occupational status Potential “expanded” SES indicators > FAMILY: For example, family structure, stability, and the presence of extended family and other supportive adults > NEIGHBORHOOD: Including the concentration of poverty or linguistic isolation, the percentage of unemployed adults, and the availability of museums, parks, or safe walking routes SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS RECONSIDERED The National Assessment Governing Board is considering a new method of identifying a student’s socioeconomic status when disaggregating the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. NAEP researchers now rely primarily on a student’s eligibility for the National School Lunch Program— which as of 2011 provided free or low-cost meals to more than 31 million students in poverty each day—as a proxy for socioeconomic status. This traditional indicator is bolstered by background questions on home possessions, such as washing machines, encyclopedias, and mobile phones. > SCHOOL: The aggregate SES composition of students at the school the child attends, as distinct from the neighborhood SES level Potential additional context indicators > PHYSICAL STRESSORS: Local rates of illness or environmental problems > PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESSORS: Levels of crime in the school and community > PSYCHOLOGICAL PROTECTORS: Student perception of parent involvement and expectations SOURCE: National Assessment Governing Board EXTR A CREDIT K–12 Earn free PURELL® for your schools! K-12 EXTRA CREDIT Providing hand hygiene essentials has never been easier, or more budget friendly. sioned eight researchers in education, economics, statistics, human development, and sociology that have been working on the new indicators since 2010. The panel released its initial proposal at a nagb meeting here Nov. 29. “We rapidly learned that socioeconomic status contains multiple dimensions and categories that don’t neatly collapse back to ‘low’ versus ‘high,’ ” said Charles D. Cowan, the chief executive officer of the San Antonio-based research group Analytic Focus and a member of the governing board’s expert panel. “Over the last 10 to 15 years, there’s been an explosion in the data available” on student characteristics, Mr. Cowan said. “Perhaps now is the time to think about alternative measures of ses simply because now we are able to think about it.” Beyond Free Lunch For decades, the universal proxy for students’ socioeconomic status—for naep and nearly every federal education and child-health program—has been just such a high-low indicator: eligibility for subsidized meals under the National School Lunch Program. Federal food aid does capture a huge swath of students in poverty: The school lunch program alone provides meals for more than 31 million children, at reduced cost to those living at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty line, and free to those who are at or below 130 percent of the In these challenging times, GOJO understands that schools with tight budgets need to make their dollars work harder. Purchase GOJO foam hand soaps, and earn credits for free PURELL for your classrooms, restrooms, cafeterias and athletic facilities. Find out how your school can enroll by visiting us at Contact us directly at ©2012 GOJO Industries, Inc. All rights reserved. poverty line or who are homeless, in foster care, or in certain other programs. In 2012 in the lower 48 states and the District of Columbia, children living in a family of four on $40,000 or less a year would be eligible for reduced price meals; the free-lunch cutoff for the same family would be $30,000. From a research and policy perspective, however, experts say food-aid eligibility gives an incomplete picture of the resources of students in poverty, and no information about students who don’t qualify. Moreover, those poverty counts notoriously underrepresent students as they get older and more self-conscious about applying for free or reduced-price lunch. “There are many problems regarding the use of free and reducedcost lunch,” said Henry M. Levin, a research panelist and an economics and education professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, who is now on sabbatical at Peking University in Beijing. “It does not distinguish in a sensitive way differences along the entire spectrum of ses,” he noted in an email to Education Week. “Even for the poor or relatively poor, there are large differences” within the range of free-lunch eligibility. The governing board has tried in the past to fill in the gaps using the background questionnaire students complete along with naep, according to William Ward, a senior research scientist for assessment at nces, which ad-

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - December 12, 2012

Education Week - December 12, 2012
Test Designers Tap Students for Feedback
Race to Top Draws Out New Suitors
Common Core Taught Through the Arts
Federal Attention on ELL Needs Seen to Wane
News in Brief
Report Roundup
NAEP Seeks to Test New Measure Of Student Poverty
In Rural Areas, After-School Efforts Must Stretch to Provide Services
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: McGraw-Hill Education Sale Highlights Publishing Trends
K-12, Higher Ed. Unite to Align Learning In Minnesota
States Pledge to Expand School Hours, Days
Absenteeism Linked to Low Achievement In NAEP Time Study
Union Pushes Higher Standards For New Teachers
Brand-New NAEP Report on Vocabulary Shows Same Old Gaps
Psychiatrists Revising Manual On Mental Disorders
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: N.C. Law Protects Educators From Online Harassment
Blogs of the Week
Education May Not Benefit From Brighter Financial Outlook
K-12 Education Advocates Lobby To Avert Fiscal Cliff
Policy Brief
Louisiana’s Ambitious Voucher Effort Unclear Following Judge’s Ruling
BARNETT BERRY & FREDERICK M. HESS: Expanded Learning Time: An Avenue to Greater Change
DAVE POWELL: Confusing Achievement With Aptitude
ANITA N. VOELKER: Smokeless Santa? Sanitizing a Child’s World
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
JAMES S. LIEBMAN: Ending the Great School Wars

Education Week - December 12, 2012