UNC professor named to national education board by DeVos

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Professor Gregory J. Cizek was named to DeVos' National Assessment Governing Board.

Gregory Cizek, UNC professor of educational measurement and evaluation, was one of six new appointments to the National Assessment Governing Board to serve a four-year term.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the appointments Sept. 28. 

“It’s a privilege to have these accomplished leaders with such diverse backgrounds agree to oversee NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress)," DeVos said in a news release about the appointments. “The board plays an important role in assessing student achievement, and these members’ perspectives will be critical as we work to close the achievement gap and ensure all students have equal access to a great education.”

The board sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, according to Bill Bushaw, executive director of the board. 

“NAEP is the Nation’s Report Card,” he said. “The board decides who to test, what to test, when to test and how to report the results to the American public.”

Bushaw said the NAEP reports uniformly on school progress at the state and national level every two years. Public, private and charter schools are all tested.

“In addition to asking students how much they understand in reading and math and other subjects, we also ask them questions about learning environments and access to materials,” Bushaw said. “We also ask teachers about professional development.”

Cizek’s position on the board is as testing and measurement expert.

“(Testing and measurement experts) are really relied upon most heavily to make sure the NAEP is really of the highest quality, so we can really be confident that students have learned more or less,” Cizek said. “I’ll be looked to as a resource for ensuring the reliability and validity of the test.”

Bushaw said Cizek will help advise other members of the board on creating tests.

“(Cizek) and our other two testing experts help highlight some of the testing issues we need to consider and help inform other members of some of the nuances they have to consider in setting policy,” Bushaw said.

States can use their NAEP results to address policy reform, Cizek said. Report card results show how education in each state compares, and can help policy makers address issues before and after reform.

“They can use the results to see how are we doing in terms of how the reform is working. Are our scores going up or not?” Cizek said. “If they’re not progressing as much as they thought, they can look at how another state is doing things.”

Cizek said his background has covered many different aspects of education and educational policy. He has worked as a teacher, a principal, served on a school board and has been a professor at UNC for 17 years.

“My specialty here in the academic world is about academic testing, including how to develop and administer tests with valid information,” he said. “I think my background will be very helpful in serving on the board.”

Bushaw said the board also asks students questions about educational practices, like how much time they spend on homework each week, and then it compare the answers to testing scores.

“We can show relationships,” he said. “We don’t say that because of this, something happened, but we do identify relationships.”

Nominations for the non-partisan board are made by individuals and organizations. Nominees are then reviewed by the board’s nomination committee and are officially appointed by the secretary of education after being recommended by the committee. 

Terms for the new board members began Oct. 1 and end Sept. 30, 2021.

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