Standards are Below ‘Basic’ Performance, Report Finds

Using the National Assessment of Educational Progress as a ‘common yardstick’, most states are falling short.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has released a report containing the findings of a study that compared the relative rigor of state proficiency standards in mathematics and reading using the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scale as a common yardstick.

Each individual state develops its own state assessments in mathematics and reading and sets its own proficiency standard. States can vary widely in the standards they set for their students.

By using NAEP as a common yardstick, it was possible for this study to compare state proficiency standards.

The report found -

• Most states’ proficiency standards were at or below NAEP’s definition of Basic performance.

• For those states that had made substantive changes in their assessment between 2007 and 2009, most moved toward more rigorous standards as measured by NAEP.

• For those states that had made substantive changes in their assessment between 2005 and 2009, changes in the rigor of states’ standards as measured by NAEP were mixed but showed more decreases than increases in the rigor of their standards.

• Changes in the proportion of students meeting states’ standards for proficiency between 2005 and 2007 and between 2007 and 2009 were not corroborated by the proportion of students meeting proficiency as measured by NAEP.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “Despite the progress, there is still much room for improvement in providing American students with a rigorous academic education that prepares them for success in the knowledge economy.”

“I am optimistic that states will continue to increase the rigor of their standards. Under the $350 million Race to the Top Assessment Program, states are working to create the next generation of assessments that will track students’ academic growth and measure higher-order thinking skills.”

“Higher standards and better assessments are essential reform, and I am committed to supporting states as they do the work of raising standards.” Duncan said.

Additional resources for understanding state proficiency standards, including profiles of proficiency standards for each state, frequently asked questions, and copies of past reports, are available here.

The report is a product of the National Center for Education Statistics at the Institute of Education Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Education.

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Thursday

August 11th, 2011

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