students with disabilities and English language learners in NAEP can be evaluated, based on an articulation of the target skills being measured and the content of the assessment tasks in a particular assessment.


The committee commissioned a review of NAEP’s reading and math frameworks with two goals in mind. First, we wanted to identify the constructs—targeted skills and knowledge—measured by the assessments and the associated ancillary skills required to perform the assessment tasks (see Hansen and Steinberg, 2004). We also wanted to evaluate the validation argument associated with use of specific accommodations on these assessments and to examine possible sources of alternate interpretations of scores. The resulting paper develops Bayes nets (“belief networks” that represent the interrelationships among many variables) to represent the test developer’s conceptions of target and ancillary skills and the role of specific accommodations. The authors analyzed these models to evaluate the validity of specific accommodations. The reader is referred to Hansen et al. (2003) for an in-depth treatment of this topic.

In the text that follows, we summarize the Hansen et al. analysis of the NAEP reading and mathematics frameworks. We then draw on the work of Hansen, Mislevy, and their colleagues (Hansen and Steinberg, 2004; Hansen et al., 2003; Mislevy et al., 2002, 2003) to provide a very basic introduction to the development of an inference-based validation argument. We then discuss two examples, one adapted from Hansen and Steinberg (2004); see also Hansen et al., (2003) (a visually impaired student taking the NAEP reading assessment) and one that the committee developed (an English language learner taking the NAEP reading assessment).

According to the framework document, the NAEP reading assessment “measures comprehension by asking students to read passages and answer questions about what they have read” (National Assessment Governing Board, 2002a, p. 5). NAEP reading tasks are designed to evaluate skills in three reading contexts: reading for literary experience, reading for information, and reading to perform a task (p. 8). The tasks and questions also evaluate students’ skills in four aspects of reading: forming a general understanding, developing interpretations, making reader-text connections, and examining content and structure (p. 11). These skills are considered by reading researchers to be components of reading comprehension. We note here that there are no explicit statements in the NAEP reading framework document to indicate that the assessment designers believe that decoding or fluency are part of the targeted proficiency (Hansen and Steinberg, 2004).

The NAEP mathematics assessment measures knowledge of mathematical content in five areas: number properties and operations, measurement, geometry, data analysis and probability, and algebra (National Assessment Governing

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