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.)