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Analysis of Reading and Math Proficiency Standards Across States Finds Continued Inconsistency

Analysis of Reading and Math Proficiency Standards Across States Finds Continued Inconsistency

A new report from American Institutes for Research titled National Benchmarks for State Achievement Standards has found that achievements standards across the nation’s states still vary greatly.

"This report uses national benchmarking as a common metric to examine state achievement standards and compare how high these standards are compared to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) achievement levels. It also compares how much students are expected to learn in some states with how much they are expected to learn in other states,” the report says.

Specifically, it compared standards in states affiliated with the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced), the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC), ACT Aspire as well as standards in states not affiliated with either three.

It looked at standards in reading and math for students in grades 4 and 8 for each respective set of standards to determine how states are defining college readiness.

When looking at states not affiliated with any of the three standard sets, it found that only Florida has standards comparable to the NAEP Proficient level in both grades 4 and 8 in reading and math.

Even more surprisingly, the report found that “[f]or the group-based assessments, only PARCC mathematics, grades 4 and 8, have college-ready standards comparable in difficulty to the NAEP Proficient level.”

It also found that the Smarter Balanced’s achievement standards are "about one-quarter of a standard deviation lower than the PARCC performance standards.”

This indicates that despite intention to regulate standards and what defines “college-ready” across states with the roll-out of the Common Core, states are still holding their students to different standards depending on what assessments they use.

As a side note, the report intends to make it clear that this does not speak to the efficiency of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) themselves, but rather the tests that are being used to assess them.

“...this report does not, in any way, address or evaluate the quality of the CCSS. The CCSS are content standards, while this report deals only with achievement standards. Content standards represent the curriculum that teachers should teach, and the scope and sequence of what students should learn in school. Achievement standards are cut-scores on the state test that represent performance expectations. For example, what level of performance on the test do we think represents being on track to be college ready.”

Read the full report.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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