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Reading Score That Rates a Fourth-Grader "Proficient" in Mississippi Would be a Failing Score in Massachusetts

The wide variations found in how states assess student progress are certain to fuel debate about whether the federal No Child Left Behind law should be overhauled to make standards more uniform from state to state.

Massachusetts sets the proficiency score on its fourth-grade reading test just below the proficiency mark on the national test. But a fourth-grader in Mississippi can be rated proficient with a state test score that is more than 70 points lower. Proficiency is defined as working at the level expected for that grade.

Susan Fuhrman, president of Columbia University's Teachers College, says educators have long known that solid standards aren't a silver bullet. "It's not enough to set standards and test achievement on them. There's a lot of other stuff that has to happen instructionally," she said.

This article appeared in the June 7, 2007 edition of the On The Net.

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