Assessing the rigor of state assessment systems

Johnny Can, Paul Peterson, Frederick Hess
unpublished
Johnny can't read. .. in South Carolina. But if his folks move to Texas, he'll be reading up a storm. What's going on? It turns out that in complying with the requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), some states have decided to be a whole lot more generous than others in determining whether students are proficient at math and reading. While NCLB required all states to have accountability systems in place, it did not say specifically how much students should know at the end of 4th or any
more » ... d of 4th or any other grade. Some states have risen to the challenge and set demanding proficiency levels for their students, while others have used lower standards to inflate reported performance. Not only is the disparity confusing, but, perversely enough, the states with the highest expectations often stand accused of having the most schools said to be in need of improvement-even when their students are doing relatively well. Because of such disparities, the states with the highest standards will be tempted to lower their threshold for determining proficiency, especially when NCLB teeth begin to bite. With the passage of time, f e a t u r e
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