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ERIC Number: ED497886
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004-May
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
What's Proficient? The No Child Left Behind Act and the Many Meanings of Proficiency
Rosenberg, Bella
American Federation of Teachers
The goal of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is to have 100 percent of America's public school students "proficient" by the year 2014. As Rosenberg points out, however, there are multiple interpretations of proficiency, including: (1) Different methods of setting performance standards yield different meanings of proficient; (2) Different tests, even in the same subject, yield different percentages of proficient students; (3) Proficient generally means different things in different grades, even on the same test and in the same subject; (4) Different percentages of proficient students in different subjects do not necessarily mean that students or schools are stronger or weaker in one subject than the other; and (5) Proficient means different things in different states. The author notes that National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) proficiency standards are set very high, surpassing the most ambitious state benchmarks, and that NCLB's requirement of 100 percent proficiency is not the same thing as requiring that all students achieve at grade level. Rosenberg maintains that there are excellent reasons for setting standards on the basis of ambitious judgments about where students ought to be rather than according to actual performance, but that NCLB would be better structured by recognizing different academic starting points of students and schools. (Contains 19 footnotes and 4 tables.)
American Federation of Teachers. 555 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001. Tel: 202-879-4400; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Federation of Teachers, Washington, DC.
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001