The indefatigable Bruce Baker is at his best in this post, where he puts the NAEP scores into perspective. As he notes, it is not useful to look at a two-year test score change as a reliable indicator. It is far wiser to look at scores in a longitudinal fashion and, when possible, look at other factors that may affect test scores. Then, too, he notes that the NAEP results do not align well with Michelle Rhee’s scorecard for the states. Some of the states she considered to be tops don’t do well on NAEP, either short term or long term.

Even with Baker’s fine analysis, it makes me uneasy to see this maniacal national and international race to get the highest scores. As long as our policymakers and federal policy continue to ignore the undying factors of child health and well-being, and the well-being of families and communities, the NAEP scores are like shadows on the wall, interesting but a distraction from the more important factors that create the conditions for a good life, including a respect for and love of learning.