Georgia is an easy grader, according to national review

In a new report out today contrasting proficiency scores from state exams to the National Assessment of Educational Progress scores, Georgia comes across as a very easy grader.

“States are setting the bar too low,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in response to the study. “We’re lying to our children when we tell them they’re proficient, but they’re not achieving at a level that will prepare them for success once they graduate.”

There are critics who contend that even high-scoring kids in Norway would not reach proficient on NAEP’s high standard, but shouldn’t Georgia kids who do well on the CRCT   at least score on the basic level on NAEP?

The data-rich study compares proficiency standards of states using NAEP –  often called the Nation’s Report Card — as the common yardstick.

I am troubled that Georgia students deemed proficient in reading and math on the CRCT are not even scoring at the basic cutoff on NAEP.

Should I be?

The state will argue that the two tests don’t compare, that they measure different things.


But why is it that the high performing states – the ones who look good no matter what comparison is being made or what test is being considered – also shine here?

The states sharing the lower berths with Georgia in the NAEP mapping are the usual bottom feeders.

Here’s what the mapping shows:

In reading, Georgia fourth graders deemed proficient by CRCT mapped onto a equivalent score of 185 on NAEP reading. Not only is 185 below NAEP’s proficiency score of 238, it’s below NAEP’s basic cutoff score  of 208.

In 8th grade reading, students deemed proficient in reading by the CRCT mapped to a NAEP score of 215.  Again, not only is that below the NAEP proficiency score of 281 in 8th grade reading; it falls below the NAEP basic score cutoff of 243 as well.

And math tells the same story. Our fourth grade proficiency score translates to a NAEP score of 213.  Again, 213  is below both NAEP proficiency score of 249 and the basic cutoff score of 214.

In 8th grade math, our proficiency score on the CRCT maps to a NAEP score of 243. That is well below the NAEP proficiency score of 299  and below the basic score of 262. In 8th grade math, NAEP said Georgia was among seven states whose improvements on states tests were not corroborated by similar gains in NAEP.

In explaining the purpose of the mapping, the study states:

The purpose of state-to-NAEP comparisons is to aid in the interpretation of state assessment results by providing a benchmark. Despite the limitations of state-to-NAEP comparisons, there is a need for reliable information that compares state standards to one another. What does it mean to say that a student is proficient in reading in grade 4 in Massachusetts? Would a fourth-grader who is proficient in reading in Wyoming also be proficient in Massachusetts? The analyses presented in this study provide a basis for answering such questions.
Mapping state standards for proficient performance on the NAEP scales showed wide variation among states in the rigor of their standards. The implication is that students of similar academic skills, but residing in different states, are being evaluated against different standards for proficiency in reading and mathematics. All NAEP scale equivalents of states’ reading standards were below NAEP’s Proficient range; and in mathematics, only two states’ NAEP scale equivalent were in the NAEP Proficient range (Massachusetts in grades 4 and 8, and South Carolina in grade 8). In many cases, the NAEP scale equivalent for a state’s standard, especially in grade 4 reading, mapped below the NAEP achievement level for Basic performance. There may well be valid reasons for state standards to fall below NAEP’s Proficient range. The comparisons simply provide a context for describing the rigor of performance standards that states across the country have adopted.

Take a look at the NAEP mapping study.  Link is above. Let us know what you think. (I have a call into Georgia DOE, but no response yet. I will post anything I get.)

41 comments Add your comment

Reality 4 Real

October 29th, 2009
4:21 pm

Apples and Oranges…what we need is a national test based on a national curriculum.

David S

October 29th, 2009
4:24 pm

NCLB, Hope Scholarship, Government run schools. Why is anyone surprised? Homeschool.

Maureen Downey

October 29th, 2009
4:36 pm

Reality 4 Real, I’m with you on national testing and national curriculum.


October 29th, 2009
4:44 pm

I haven’t read the report but is there a comprehensive scale that converts CRCT figures into equivalent NAEP scores? I’m curious how local schools stack up with the national average if such a scale does exist.


October 29th, 2009
4:49 pm

GA ,as has many other states,set the bar incredibly low. I have given CRCT and graduation tests in several different schools. Many parts of the graduation test could be passed by a reasonably hard working middle schooler. It is too easy. And, if you are in special education and it is in your IEP it will be read too you, sometimes one on one. We need to get real about how we are testing. The old ITBS was more in line with national achievement levels and the grade equivelency was pretty close. No wonder ACT-SAT scores also put GA in the bottom.


October 29th, 2009
4:54 pm

I am a public school teacher and have been for years and I couldn’t disagree more about a national curriculum. First of all the Constitution does not authorize the federal government to run education and there is a reason why. Our Founders new local control of education makes for more sense. NCLB is a prime example of what a national educational curriculum would bring. Secondly common sense comes into play. Children in the very poor Mississippi delta area have very different educational needs than kids that live in Beverly Hills. The idea of a national curriculum only works in a vacuum which doesn’t take into account socio-economic backgrounds of the students nor the level of parental involvement as well as many other factors. Considering what’s been going on in our economy and the wars how could anyone argue that those stooges in Washington could educate our children.


October 29th, 2009
5:46 pm

Maureen, as many of us posted on the 9th graders thread yesterday, this is no surprise to teachers. We KNOW the bar is set incredibly low on the CRCT.

A student who receives the lowest passing score on the reading part of the CRCT will score at a 4th grade level on the ITBS. I can see how we could say the ITBS doesn’t test Georgia’s math curriculum, but READING?

@oldtimer – buried in the state’s own testing newsletter is a chart showing that a student has to be reading at a higher level to “exceed expectations” on the 6th grade CRCT than to score “pass plus” on the English/language arts GHSGT.


October 29th, 2009
5:47 pm

And I still think the reason so many students fail the science and social studies sections of the GHSGT is that the reading level on those sections is much higher than on the other two.


October 29th, 2009
6:04 pm


THere is no doubt that the bar is set very, very low. One of my colleagues was on the committee that developed the CRCT. They all knew, for example, that the cut off passing score for the 7th grade CRCT would typically mean that the student was actually reading at a 3rd or 4th grade level.
Allowing states to develop their own tests for NCLB in actuality meant that comparisons from state to state were going to be useless.

As JIM posted , a national curriculum/test probably isn’t going to happen. But, that really is the only way that a valid comparison can be made.


October 29th, 2009
6:13 pm

This is one of the NO Duhs for anyone who has read posting here about the CRCt, grading, etc.


October 29th, 2009
6:18 pm

I should have added that a student who makes the minimum passing score on the 8th grade CRCT will score at a 4th grade level on the ITBS….

Yankee in Gooberville

October 29th, 2009
6:28 pm

Oh David S, like no other state uses government funded schools? Homeschooling is for antisocial christian nut cases terrified of science and prefer to sit down their precious Cody to tell him how Jesus rode dinosaurs.

It’s just people in the south are dumber. Sorry, but it’s true.


October 29th, 2009
6:42 pm

I forgot to add, local control is the only way to go, but text books kind of set a national curriculum.I am most familiar with social studies education…Most states teach American History in 4th-5th, and 11th grade. Many teach World History in 6-7th and 10grades. That is how the books are published. Ga is unique with state history mandated in 8th grade.


October 29th, 2009
6:53 pm

Whenever the Federal Government gets involved in Education it is certain to be a DISASTER.


October 29th, 2009
6:59 pm

I get it, tests are the way to assess a large amount of students in a small amount of time. But testing only shows part of what students can do.

As a new teacher, I had the misconception that teachers integrated their content and skills. From what I have seen, only some teachers do this. Why not hit more standards with the same curriculum? Chopping it up makes no sense to the kids. We need to think more holistically about education.


October 29th, 2009
8:07 pm

I am assured once again that I made the right choice by paying for private school. I will go without food before I subject my children to the Georgia public school system.


October 29th, 2009
8:55 pm

SallyB, I don’t think a national curriculum – or test – will ever happen either, and my greatest fear is that, if it did, we’d get something closer to the bottom than to the top.


October 29th, 2009
9:16 pm

Two very important things here:

1. The switch to GPS will raise the quality of Georgia’s math results on the NAEP. This study was based on the use of QCC tests with lower cut scores and lower expectations of students.

2. When the people of Georgia decide they want higher quality education they will do two things: put their money where their mouths are and they will expect their children to perform in school. Right now we see an extremely low commitment on both fronts.

[...] View post: Georgia is an easy grader, according to national review | Get Schooled [...]


October 29th, 2009
10:02 pm

Please don’t be so quick to jump to National curriculum as the answer. Read this great post about the shortfall of the National Standards movement- the links within this post are also worth a read. I don’t have the answers but I am not sure more testing is the answer. This will get you thinking:

V for Vendetta

October 29th, 2009
11:14 pm

The bar is set too low? I wasn’t even aware there was a bar in the first place.

Get the government out of education. Let the private industry set its own bar, and let the people decide how much of a bar they want their kids to hurdle. The cream will always rise.

ScienceTeacher671 and SallyB,

You’re completely correct. National standards = national dumbing down. If we’re not prepared to accept the truth at the local level–i.e., not all kids can hack it in school–what makes anyone think the federal government is prepared to accept it at the national level? I mean, they’re the ones who passed NCLB. They’re the ones who are pushing for more government control, testing, and accountability. They’re the ones who obviously don’t get it.

So why are they in charge?

V for Vendetta

October 29th, 2009
11:17 pm

And to anyone who complains that the poor, disadvantaged people couldn’t survive in a privatized system (or capitalistic economy, for that matter), please refer to the Jaycee Dugard post. When people truly value something, they will always find a way to attain it.

[...] post:  Georgia is an cushy grader, according to domestic analyse | Get Schooled Posted in Education, Uncategorized | Tags: a-new-report, comes-across, dogs-47-10, [...]


October 30th, 2009
12:56 am


Yankee in Gooberville when I transferred from Dekalb County Schools to the glorious schools in NJ, they put me in advanced classes, because of the curriculum down south. Explain that.


October 30th, 2009
8:06 am

Can we all agree Georgia’s educational system is NOT WORKING?? Its time for major changes, not major spins!!

Joy in Teaching

October 30th, 2009
9:59 am

A couple of weeks ago, I had a parent screaming at me because their daughter scored a low B on an essay that I graded using a rubric based on the Georgia Middle Grades Writing Assessment. The parent exclaimed that her daughter had always been a good writer, that they had won an award in the 4th grade, and that I had no idea what I was doing. The parent complained to the principal and threatened to call the school superintendant if I didn’t do something “immediately.” My principal had me bring the essay to her office, where I pointed out the three run-on sentences, the use of slang and text-speak, and the lack of a concluding paragraph. I explained how the paper was assessed by the rubric which was developed by the county.

The end result? I was told in no uncertain terms to give the kid a 96 and apologize to the parent “or else.” As my husband has been laid off from work, I simply gave in.

So much for standards. Most parents don’t want them. And most administrators would rather threaten a teacher’s lively hood than actually hold students up to any form of standard.



October 30th, 2009
10:14 am

Sounds like the student deserved a C on the paper. A’s are so easy to get in Georgia schools, parents get upset over B’s.


October 30th, 2009
10:43 am

I shudder to think that stories like Joy in Teaching shares are true, but I know they are. Principals that don’t stand up for strong academic standards are not worth a dime and should be fired. Too bad that some school systems allow this practice to continue.

V for Vendetta

October 30th, 2009
10:52 am


I would contend that MANY school systems allow such principals.


October 30th, 2009
11:02 am

I once worked in a school where students were allowed to redo EVERYTHING utill they made an A…..many chose not to and you were supposed to make them. They did not make AYP that year and I moved on.


October 30th, 2009
11:56 am

On national standards, what is the real difference between national standards and the current GPS? It seems that the diversity in the state of GA is a fairly accurate representation of the country as a whole. The deep south of the state is still incredibly rural, while the northern metro area is very affluent. We’ve also got everything in between.

If state-wide standards are ok, how are national standards not? The only way to have true “local” control in to let each district, or maybe even each school in larger counties (look at the difference in demographics inside of Cobb, Fulton or Gwinnett) set their own standards. That seems like a bad idea to me.


October 30th, 2009
12:16 pm

I can hear Jim D telling Joy in Teaching that teachers will continue to have this happen until someone stands up. I know it’s easier said than done, but I once refused to change a 69 to a 70. An administrator changed the grade anyway, but I insisted that the parents be informed who changed the grade because I did not want to be seen as a pushover or someone with no standards.

As long as students here get something (an A,C, etc) for nothing (shoddy or even no work) or continue to be socially promoted, we’ll continue to be at the bottom of eduation rankings. The CRCTs and the GHSGTs are jokes (both the tests themselves and what is considered ‘passing’).


October 30th, 2009
4:27 pm

After a military upbringing in many states, I am completely unsurprised. Georgia’s schools were always years behind almost every other place we went – even if you did learn everything that was taught, and many do not.


October 31st, 2009
10:35 am

Is there a bar? Why are fourth grade students reading on a pre-primer and first grade level? Why don’t fourth grade students know basic multiplication facts? Let’s not get too excited when your school makes AYP. The CRCT tests only a small fraction of what was taught during the year.


October 31st, 2009
10:58 am

The really frightening – maybe even terrifying – thing is that some schools feel the need to cheat on a test like the CRCT, when children working up to 4 years below grade level can pass it….

Joy in Teaching

November 1st, 2009
10:02 am

Respecting the child’s self esteem is everything in elementary schools here in Georgia, even if it based on false abilities. I was once in a class with an elementary school teacher who honestly felt that holding a student back was the absolutely worst thing that she could do and she didn’t want to hear those of us who taught in upper grades rant about how students could barely read or do simple math.

Students are routinely passed on up regardless of what they can or cannot do. Want to fix education in Georgia? You don’t start with the high schools: you start with changing the mindset of elementary schools.

Cobb County Parent

November 1st, 2009
6:06 pm

The CRCT is a joke! You want to know why the children are meeting and exceeding standards on this test. They start practicing in October. Come January, that’s all you hear for 4 months. After they take the test in April school might as well be over for that year. It coast time until May. Is this dumb down test what we want our kids to achieve? Is this the bar we want set for Georgia’s children? I hope not.


November 1st, 2009
11:11 pm

Amen, Joy in Teaching!

Recently in a Public School

November 2nd, 2009
7:17 am

I agree that our standards are terrible. When I was at school, two incidents really hit me with how low we’ve sunk. The first was watching a student ask for help to pay for his lunch. Not because he didn’t have enough money, mind you, but because he couldn’t figure out how much change to give the cashier. This was in high school! His schooling hadn’t even prepared him to work at a grocery store! We weren’t some broke backwoods school either; supposedly we are in the top 25 schools in the state.

As bad as that was, the real eye opener was taking the High School Graduation Test. I knew better than to bother studying for it, but I at least expected I’d need a high school education to pass it. I think the worst part was when the math test asked us how many yellow marbles were in a bag filled with only green and blue marbles. You could almost hear the bar hitting the ground.

teacher in GA

November 5th, 2009
8:28 am

The culture in the south is completely different than anywhere else. Our country has fostered the idea of don’t work for it – we’ll give it to you through the welfare system. There are generations of children growing up with this mind-set. And now with no child left behind, we are sending the same message in education. The teachers bend over backwards to help a child pass and graduate because if we don’t make AYP. we are deemed inefficient. We are not allowed to hold high standards because the students have no desire to achieve. They have caught on to the fact, that the faculty will do whatever it takes to help them pass these nationalized tests. It is a sick cycle. We need to teach these kids responsiblity. Instead we are consistently promoting a “don’t worry about it, it will be taken care of for you” attitude. We need to let teachers teach and quit worrying about where the scores stand. Data cannot tell the entire story.


November 12th, 2009
1:23 am

Please stop asking parents of private school kids why they are sending their kids to private in Georgia. I ask why you would send your students to public in Georgia with knowing how Georgia is doing nationally. These are the same parents that act like Georgia is doing just fine. They make every excuse for public schools trying to say Georgia is really number 4 not 47 in country if you take out the social economic factor. Please, you can’t take out the social economic factor that is what your children are being compared to. That is why your student looks brilliant compared to them. This is also why so many are being placed in gifted programs. Public schools have them because the basic curriculm is so basic they need to give the students doing a little better than average one day a week they can do something different. Even though those classes are just special projects. This is just a bragging right for parents. Gifted students need more then one day a week enrichment. As far as the CRCT goes, everyone of my friends kids exceed these every year. However, none of them that exceed them do very well on the itbs. Thank goodness my children do remarkable well on nation test itbs etc. I wouldn’t allow my kids to be taught just to the Georgia standards. I can’t believe the parents of public school students could even question me or any other parent for sending their kids to private in Georgia knowing what a joke the standards are. Who do you think your kidding??? Your the ones that should be questioning yourselves. For those of you who say…I wouldn’t want to stress my kids out by going to a school that is to academically challenging, your child is going to be more stressed out when he/she is making straight A’s for just showing up and grade inflation then not being able to make it through college from not being truly prepared.