Race winners set low standards

Tennessee and Delaware, the first-round Race To The Top winners, set low standards for their students, concludes a new report on state proficiency standards by Paul Peterson and Carlos Xabel Lastra-Anadón in Education Next.

Tennessee earned an F, as did Alabama and Nebraska.

Based on its own tests and standards, (Tennessee) claimed in 2009 that over 90 percent of its 4th-grade students were proficient in math, whereas NAEP tests revealed that only 28 percent were performing at a proficient level. Results in 4th-grade reading and at the 8th-grade level are much the same. With such divergence, the concept of “standard” has lost all meaning. It’s as if a yardstick can be 36 inches long in most of the world, but 3 inches long in Tennessee.

Delaware earned a grade of C-  for claiming that 77 percent of its 4th-grade students were proficient in math versus 36 percent on NAEP. “In 8th-grade reading, Delaware said 81 percent of its students were proficient, but NAEP put the figure at 31 percent.”

. . . Tennessee earned almost full marks (98 percent) on the section of the competition (weighted a substantial 14 percent of all possible points) devoted to “adopting standards and assessments,” even though its standards have remained extremely low ever since the federal accountability law took hold. The proof will be in the pudding. If Tennessee and Delaware and other states now shift their standards dramatically upward, RttT will win over those who think it is performance, rather than promises, that should be rewarded.

Five states — Hawaii, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, and Washington — earned an A for world-class or near-world-class standards. Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont earned a B.

In Ed Next’s blog, Peterson worries that national standards will end up slightly above the C level.

The selection of Tennessee and Delaware was “subjective and arbitrary,” concludes an Economic Policy Institute report, Let’s Do the Numbers.

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  1. tim-10-ber says:

    Ya know — Tennessee DID have very low standards. Very low. Very sad, too. The discrepancy between the NAEP results and the state results WAS staggering. Why it took so long for the state to get off its duff and raise the standards is beyond me. Dumb, dumb, dumb!

    Now…the state has supposedly raised its standards to be second only to Massachusetts. The TCAPs have been taken this spring based on the new standards that went into effect this year. The teachers have been working their tails off. Parents are waking up to the fact how weak government education is in Tennessee.

    The cut scores have not been set for this year’s TCAP as no one has a clue what the results will be (I HATE this about education!!) So…we will know in December the cut scores and the results.

    If educators did this right they would know how many correct answers are needed to be basic, proficient and advanced. But NO-O-O-O educators have to wait to see how many kids comprehended the question and got the answers right. Heaven forbid they hurt their poor self-esteem any more and demand more from the poor students and teachers and parents. Tsk. TSK. I just hope to hell that proficient means the kids are at grade level and that advanced truly means they are ABOVE grade level. Time will tell…stay tuned more to come in DECEMBER.

    Do ya see why I am so down on government schools?

  2. Questions always need to go “live” for validity testing. That’s just how it works. Even AP (notorious for pandering to the low esteem of students around the world) doesn’t determine the cut scores until the test has been administered and scored.


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