Research

Report: Proficiency Standards and Student Assessments Vary Between States

Proficiency standards and student assessments vary significantly from state to state, according to the latest report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The report, "Mapping State Proficiency Standards onto NAEP Scales: Results from the 2013 NAEP Reading and Mathematics Assessments," uses the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) as a common metric to compare state proficiency standards for reading and math in grades 4 and 8 for the 2012-13 school year.

"Although a wide variation in standards persists, more and more states are implementing standards at or above the NAEP Basic level," said Peggy Carr, acting NCES commissioner, in a prepared statement. "We have seen over time that, in grades 4 and 8, states' standards are mapping higher on the NAEP scale."

Key findings from the report:

  • Most state proficiency standards were within the NAEP Basic achievement level range, except in fourth grade reading, where most were below NAEP's Basic level;
  • Only New York state had standards that fell consistently within the NAEP Proficient range in both grades and subjects;
  • Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin all had standards within the NAEP Proficient range in at least two grades or subjects;
  • Reading had a greater variation in NAEP equivalent scores between states than math;
  • The number of states with grade 4 reading standards at or above the NAEP Basic level increased from 20 in 2011 to 25 in 2013;
  • In 2013, only New York state and Wisconsin had grade 4 reading standards in the NAEP Proficient range;
  • The number of states with grade 8 reading standards at or above the NAEP Basic level increased from 36 in 2011 to 41 in 2013; and
  • The number of states with grade 8 math standards at or above the NAEP Basic level increased from 39 in 2011 to 41 in 2013.

The full report, "Mapping State Proficiency Standards Onto NAEP Scales: Results From the 2013 NAEP Reading and Mathematics Assessments," is available for download from the National Center for Education Statistics site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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