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Barbour appointed to National Assessment Governing Board



Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ CC BY-SA 2.0,

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appointed former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and two others to the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the only continuing, nationally representative evaluation of U.S. students’ knowledge.

Board appointments are for four years, and Barbour will serve as the board’s chairman through the end of September.

In a statement, DeVos cited Barbour for his focus on education reform and improving student outcomes during his term as governor. Previously, Barbour served in the White House under President Ronald Reagan and as chairman of the Republican Governors Association from 2009 to 2011. Barbour returned to BGR Group—the government affairs firm he founded—after leaving the governor’s office.

The two other appointees are Curriculum Specialist Christine Cunningham and 12th-grade teacher Patrick Kelly. The appointees’ terms officially began on Oct. 1, 2019, and will end on Sept. 30, 2023. They are the final three appointees to the board for the 2019-2023 term.

The National Assessment Governing Board is a nonpartisan body that works independently from the U.S. Department of Education to set policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as The Nation’s Report Card. NAEP provides objective information on student performance in various subjects and allows comparisons of student achievement among states, large urban districts, and various student groups. The 26-member board is responsible for deciding which subjects NAEP assesses, determining the assessments’ content, setting achievement levels that describe student performance and pursuing new ways to make NAEP results meaningful to the public.

“I am pleased to welcome these new members to the National Assessment Governing Board,” said Secretary DeVos in the statement. “Their richly diverse backgrounds will help the Board as it continues its critical work to inform students, parents, educators and policymakers about the state of American education. The latest Nation’s Report Card shows a student achievement crisis, especially in reading, and I’m eager to see how the Board continues to tackle that critical challenge.

“I especially want to thank Gov. Barbour for his willingness to serve as board chair. His experience leading education reform in Mississippi, the fruit of which is seen in the latest Report Card, is one of many assets he will bring to the table.”

Cunningham is a professor of education and engineering at the College of Education at The Pennsylvania State University and founder of the Engineering is Elementary Program at the Museum of Science in Boston. She won the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education in 2017 for a pioneering curriculum that introduces engineering concepts and practices at the elementary level.

Kelly works in a hybrid role teaching AP U.S. Government and Politics and serving as coordinator of professional learning for Richland School District 2 outside of Columbia, S.C. Kelly is certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and was a finalist for the South Carolina State Teacher of the Year award in 2014. He has also served as a teaching ambassador fellow and lead classroom teaching ambassador fellow for the U.S. Department of Education.

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