According to WUSF News, some states are telling kids and parents that they are better at reading, writing, math, and other subjects than they actually are. The states are using their own test results to make that judgment and not the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, also known as the Nation’s Report Card.
WUSF News reports that the website WhyProficiencyMatters.com, a site of the Foundation for Excellence in Education tracks the percentage of students scoring at grade level on state tests and then compares that with how well students perform on the NAEP tests. Apparently more students do well on state tests than on the NAEP, the group has found.
According to WUSF News, Patricia Levesque, director of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, says the gap between the two test results may constitute an honesty gap.
“It’s really important to look at what is the gap between how your students are doing on the national test compared to how they’re doing on the state test,” she said, “because that gap tells you, basically, how honest your state is being to parents with how their individual child is doing.”
“We’ve been telling parents, ‘Oh no, your child is fine.’ But then when they get to college, they’re actually not ready.”
The gap differs by state. In Florida, 39% of fourth graders could read proficiently according to the 2013 NAEP test results; but the state test indicated that 60% of fourth graders were proficient in reading. In Alabama, however, the gap between state results and the NAEP is one of the largest: 50 percentage points.
Whether the gap is a problem for college-bound students is a point of discussion since many students who don’t do well on NAEP go on to complete college successfully. But graduating from college shouldn’t necessarily be the benchmark, since it isn’t known how much difficulty such students encountered in school, how selective the school was, or the course of study. And states differ in what they require of students: According to a recent study from the National Center for Education Statistics, what some states considered proficient for seventh graders was what other states considered proficient for fourth graders. This is almost certainly a flagrant example of dumbing down.
Using Common Core won’t necessarily avoid the gap either, since 22 states have chosen not to use the national tests developed to measure Common Core proficiency. Florida, for example, has developed its own test.