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Saturday, 17th May 2008

Education Next’s New Report Card on State Proficiency Standards under NCLB Reveals Which States Have World-Class Standards and Which Do Not

Education Next’s New Report Card on State Proficiency Standards under NCLB Reveals Which States Have World-Class Standards and Which Do Not
Source: Education Next (Hoover Institution)

Education Next’s Paul E. Peterson and Frederick M. Hess have released their new report card on state proficiency standards, updated with the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data and state assessment results. They present definitive answers about which states are at the head of the class and which at the back; which ones are on the fast track to improve and which ones are sliding to the bottom.

Tracking changes on state proficiency standards from 2003-2007, Peterson and Hess find the news is mixed: At the 8th grade level, standards are falling in reading and math, both among states that had standards in 2003 and states that have only adopted them more recently. In 8th-grade reading, for example, standards overall are down by 0.2 standard deviations.

Slippage at the 4th-grade level, however, is less. Math standards fell by only 0.06 standard deviations, the smallest decline Peterson and Hess observed. Most of the slippage at the 4th-grade level is due to the lower standards adopted by states that were initially slow in complying with the NCLB accountability system; those that have had standards since 2003 have not altered them significantly.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires all students to be proficient in math and reading by 2014 but allows each state to determine its own level of proficiency. Some states are presenting a misleading impression of their accomplishments by grading students against low standards, while states that have high standards may suffer by comparison.

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