- A new study from the National Center for Education Statistics says states set very different expectations for how well students must perform on standardized tests for reading and math in order to be designated proficient.
- The study looked at standardized tests for every state in 2013 and compared proficiency rates on state exams with the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is the only test administered in all states.
- Georgia ranked as having the lowest standards, while New York was found to have the highest.
Many states are currently in a period of transition between previous testing regimens and those linked to Common Core or similar state-developed college and career readiness standards. Most have warned parents, students, and teachers to expect a drop in proficiency scores as new tests roll out and are expected to be considerably more challenging for students.
The new study reveals, however, that even as states move towards harder tests, their difficulty varies considerably along with student performance. Consider neighbors Washington and Oregon. Washington’s students did considerably better than Oregon’s on exams in 2013, the year studied, even though the study found that Washington set a much higher proficiency standard for students. In fact, Washington ranked in the top half of states for high standards. Oregon’s standards, meanwhile, stuck close to or below the national average, and proficiency rates lagged as well.
Washington, Oregon, and 16 other states will soon share proficiency standards as all are moving to the Smarter Balanced tests. New York, which nabbed the top spot in the study, had already implemented harder tests tied to the Common Core in 2013, as had North Carolina and Massachusetts. That may have contributed to the state’s high difficulty score.