Where basic is 'proficient'

To meet No Child Left Behind’s call for universal proficiency by 2014, some states have lowered standards, concludes a new report by the National Council for Education Statistics. In fourth-grade reading, 31 states consider students proficient who’d score below basic on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).  Fifteen states set the proficiency cut-off below NAEP’s basic level in eighth-grade reading.  In eighth-grade math, eight states set proficiency below NAEP’s basic level.

Education Week has more.

A 4th grade student judged to be proficient in math in Colorado or Tennessee, for example, could conceivably test at the “basic” level in Massachusetts or Missouri, where the standards were judged to be most rigorous, according to the study.

States’ very low expectations for fourth-grade reading are especially troubling, says Rob Manwaring at The Quick and the Ed. It’s a gateway skill.

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  1. Don Bemont says:

    This is the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

    Since the vast majority of the people who agree with me that public education needs major improvement disagree with me about the usefulness of these highly publicized measurements, I can only hope that there is a move to analyze the findings.

    What is meant by proficiency or mastery? What did the test actually ask of students? Who scored the tests? What students have been included/excluded from the testing? In those cases where the tests show that things have improved, would those improvements be evident to an educated person who conversed with those students or read their written work?

    Politicians and administrators are far more adept at packaging things to look good than they are at making them good.

  2. tim-10-ber says:

    Seeing how in Tennessee 95% or more of the students have to be tested…the results should be indicative of a very weak school system. I am thrilled we will finally get the NAEP standards. The measurements will be applied to the 2008-2009 school year test even though it is not aligned with NAEP. It gives us a base line year. We expect a couple of rough years with our district risking going under state control — more than it already is.

    If this is what it takes to move Tennessee out of the cellar of the education world I am all for it. The weakness of the state standards have been known for years. Grade inflation, inconsistency across the board of what is an A, B or C, etc. makes Tennessee’s government schools an absolute joke.

    Time will tell…I wonder when they will clean house in the sate dept of education…


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