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Study Finds Widening Gap in Proficiency Levels between State Tests and NAEP

More students have been found to be proficient in state math and reading exams than in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a recent study by the Policy Analysis for California Education concludes. According to the study, these gaps have grown since the enactment of the No Child Left Behind law in 2002.
More students have been found to be proficient in state math and reading exams than in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a recent study by the Policy Analysis for California Education concludes. According to the study, these gaps have grown since the enactment of the No Child Left Behind law in 2002.

The research examines state and federal testing data from 1992 to 2006 in 12 states: Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington. In all but two of the states, Massachusetts and Arkansas, disparities in test results grew or remained stable between 2002 and 2006.

For instance, California had a 15% gap between the state's fourth grade reading scores and the NAEP in 2002.  That gap grew to 27% in 2006, which according to Education Week, translates to 129,000 students who meet the state standards but fail to meet federal standards.

The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in April, further highlights some of the problems which need to be addressed in the reauthorization of NCLB.  Chief among them is that state standards for levels of "proficiency" are inconsistently defined nationally.  And the pressure to show results has brought into question whether states are watering down their standards or inflating reported gains in order to meet NCLB's mandated Annual Yearly Progress targets.

Among the researchers' recommendations is greater transparency in reporting results, as suggested in a bill recently introduced by U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA). Kennedy's bill would require states to report NAEP results along side state results, and would urge states to benchmark their standards against national ones.

Published Monday, May. 14, 2007

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Study Finds Widening Gap in Proficiency Levels between State Tests and NAEP

More students have been found to be proficient in state math and reading exams than in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a recent study by the Policy Analysis for California Education concludes. According to the study, these gaps have grown since the enactment of the No Child Left Behind law in 2002.

The research examines state and federal testing data from 1992 to 2006 in 12 states: Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington. In all but two of the states, Massachusetts and Arkansas, disparities in test results grew or remained stable between 2002 and 2006.

For instance, California had a 15% gap between the state's fourth grade reading scores and the NAEP in 2002.  That gap grew to 27% in 2006, which according to Education Week, translates to 129,000 students who meet the state standards but fail to meet federal standards.

The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in April, further highlights some of the problems which need to be addressed in the reauthorization of NCLB.  Chief among them is that state standards for levels of "proficiency" are inconsistently defined nationally.  And the pressure to show results has brought into question whether states are watering down their standards or inflating reported gains in order to meet NCLB's mandated Annual Yearly Progress targets.

Among the researchers' recommendations is greater transparency in reporting results, as suggested in a bill recently introduced by U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA). Kennedy's bill would require states to report NAEP results along side state results, and would urge states to benchmark their standards against national ones.

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