K12 Education

Assessing the Nation’s Report Card with Chester E. Finn, Jr.

Chester E. Finn, Jr. is a Distinguished Senior Fellow and President Emeritus at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and a Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He’s the author of Assessing the Nation’s Report Card: Challenges and Choices with the NAEP. He joins host Mike Palmer in a conversation about the history of the NAEP, its challenges and opportunities, and the importance of having a shared set of standards for educational performance across the nation. You can learn more about the NAEP by checking out Overhauling the Nation’s Report Card.

We begin by hearing Chester’s origin story dating back to working in the Johnson Administration and for Daniel Patrick Moynihan before starting to work with the NAEP in 1969. From there we dig into the power of “low-stakes tests” like the NAEP in providing a read on academic performance while not penalizing students, teachers, or schools based on performance. We talk about culture wars and politicization and how to avoid many of the pitfalls there while also avoiding the broad brush attacks on standardized testing as a whole. We conclude with Chester’s read on recent results which are troubling before wrapping up. Don’t miss this deep dive into how we get a read on how the country is doing in education!

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Episode References

Chester E. Finn Jr. (2022). Assessing the Nation’s Report Card: Challenges and Choices for NAEP. Harvard Education Press. https://fordhaminstitute.org/national/research/assessing-nations-report-card-challenges-and-choices-naep