ERIC Number: EJ763331
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Reference Count: N/A
Keeping an Eye on State Standards: A Race to the Bottom?
Peterson, Paul E.; Hess, Frederick M.
Education Next, v6 n3 p28-29 Sum 2006
While No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires all students to be "proficient" in math and reading by 2014, the precedent-setting 2002 federal law also allows each state to determine its own level of proficiency. It's an odd discordance at best. It has led to the bizarre situation in which some states achieve handsome proficiency results by grading their students against low standards, while other states suffer poor proficiency ratings only because they have high standards. In this article, the authors investigate the proficiency levels of 48 states using the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) standard, the nation's "report card," and still the only metric that allows strict comparisons between states. The authors found that five states that previously had their accountability systems in place are letting their standards slide. The biggest decline was in Arizona, with significant drops also found (in order of magnitude) in Maryland, Ohio, North Dakota, and Idaho. In addition, states with already low standards have done nothing to raise them. Still, there are happier stories to tell. Montana is the most improved state. Others that have significantly boosted their proficiency standards relative to the NAEP include Texas, Arkansas, and Wisconsin. Best of all, a handful of states, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Wyoming, Maine, and Missouri, continued to impress for a second consecutive year, grading their own performance on a particularly tough curve. Of course, having high standards is not enough. It is the crucial first step, but the next, and more difficult one, is to make sure that a high percentage of students reach that standard. In that regard, all states need to do much better, if no child is to be left behind. (Contains 1 figure.)
Descriptors: State Standards, State Officials, Federal Legislation, Accountability, National Competency Tests, Student Evaluation, Educational Improvement, Academic Achievement
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001