A second study finds that Kansas uses low standards for evaluating the performance of students in its public schools.
What is the relative strength of weakness of the standards your state uses to evaluate students? A new study provides answers to this question. The report is Why Proficiency Matters. It is a project of the Foundation for Excellence in Education.
This study is important because the most widely-reported source of data about student achievement is a state’s own assessment tests. But there are problems, as explained in the report:
A proficiency cut score is an actual number (score) on an assessment that draws the line determining where a student is proficient. States use different tests and set different proficiency cut scores to determine the proficiency level for knowledge and skill mastery. When proficiency cut scores are set too low, it conveys a false sense of student achievement.
Each state has its own tests, and each state sets the bar for what is considered “proficient,” as well as for other descriptive measures such as “basic.” It’s not surprising that states vary in the rigor of their standards:
The difference between NAEP and individual states’ proficiency expectations are wide and varied. Therefore, state-reported proficiency is not equivalent to proficiency on NAEP. This is referred to as the “proficiency gap”. States with large proficiency gaps are setting the bar too low for the proficiency cut score, leading parents and teachers to believe students are performing better than they actually are.
This study looks at the results students on tests in each state and compares them to a national standard, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). By doing so, the study evaluates the strength or rigor of the standards used by each state. This does not judge the actual performance of the student. Rather, it assesses the decisions made by the state’s school administration as to what standards they will hold students.
This is not the only effort to assess state standards. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which is part of the U.S. Department of Education, also performs a similar analysis. See Kansas school standards evaluated.
Results for Kansas
The results of the analysis show that Kansas holds students to low standards of achievement. Kansas says students are “proficient” at a very low level of accomplishment, relative to other states. This is consistent with the separate analysis performed by National Center for Education Statistics.
These are the findings for Kansas:
Grade 4 reading: Kansas standards are ranked 39 out of 50 states.
Grade 8 reading: 45 of 50 states.
Grade 4 math: 36 of 50 states.
Grade 8 math: 36 of 50 states.