Academic journal article Journal of Historical Research in Music Education

Establishing Continuity of the NAEP Arts Education Assessments: Implications of the NAEP 1978 Music Assessment

Academic journal article Journal of Historical Research in Music Education

Establishing Continuity of the NAEP Arts Education Assessments: Implications of the NAEP 1978 Music Assessment

Article excerpt

Currently, a wide variety of assessment instruments are utilized in education; some focus on specific individuals, others consider large populations. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (hereafter referred to as NAEP) represents the latter. Since its inception in 1969 NAEP has assessed many subject areas, including music on three different occasions: the 1971 and 1978 NAEP Music Assessments, and the 1997 NAEP Arts Education Assessment. (1)

Research literature and studies exist for all three assessments, including a variety of publications generated by NAEP itself. Literature pertaining to the 1971 Music Assessment (also referred to as the first assessment) includes the assessment instrument formation and design, (2) procedures and methods, (3) and the assessment results. (4)

Literature germane to the 1978 assessment (also referred to as the second assessment) is extremely sparse, which also reflects a decline in the number of NAEP-produced reports. In one of the few sources not produced by NAEP, Bass provided a summary account in 1982 of the second assessment, along with some general results. (5)

Numerous sources relate to the NAEP 1997 Arts Education Assessment (also referred to as the third assessment). Some offer descriptions of NAEP's importance for arts educators, and how arts educators can interpret and utilize the results. (6) In several articles Lehman discusses NAEP's design aspects, contribution to assessment methodology, and offers suggestions on how the music education profession should respond to the results of the third assessment.7Some authors have expressed concern and perceived problems with the design and/or methodology of the third assessment, (8) while others concentrated only on the results. (9)

Few sources discuss more than one of the assessments. However, Mark offered a comparison of the first two assessments by summarizing the methodologies, listing the objectives, and discussing the results. He also provided insight into the utilization of the NAEP reports, saying: "The information in the National Assessment reports was of great potential value to the music education profession, but actually had little influence on practices.... There was less publicity about the second assessment and relatively little public feedback." (10) Sims suggested music educators pay closer attention to NAEP, since it can be a vehicle for implementing local assessments, measuring progress toward the National Standards, and increasing public awareness and advocacy. (11)

During its formative years, NAEP's authors hoped it would serve as a model for other types of assessment, not just in large-scale settings, but also in local classrooms. Haertel and Mullis believed it was natural for educators to look toward NAEP as a model for their own assessment programs. However, they maintained that exercises should be modified before they are used for local purposes. (12) Inspired by the creation and adoption of the National Standards and the impending third NAEP Assessment, Niebur compared the implementation and utilization of standards and assessment practices in four general music classrooms. (13)

Perhaps the best application of NAEP assessment design and result data to actual classrooms is the research of Sietsema, who took released exercises from the second music assessment and replicated them on a local population. When compared to the NAEP results, the students in Sietsema's study scored slightly higher in several cognitive areas. (14)

Since the primary purpose of NAEP is "to reflect current educational and assessment practices, and to measure change reliably over time," (15) the existence of three NAEP Music Assessments would seem to provide a unique opportunity to compare educational practice and change in music achievement across a twenty-six--year span. However, the comparison potential among the three assessments is limited at best, especially given the restricted scope of the 1978 Music Assessment and, "the considerable changes in the nature of the 1997 assessment, based on the . …

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