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ERIC Number: EJ911358
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 25
ISSN: ISSN-1931-6569
Great (and Not so Great) Expectations: The Demographics of Proficiency Cut-Scores
Reed, Douglas S.
AASA Journal of Scholarship & Practice, v7 n3 p37-48 Fall 2010
Advocates of uniform standards frequently argue that disparate standards produce unequal opportunities to learn. Holding some students to a lesser set of standards, the argument goes, discriminates against students at the low end of the standards spectrum. While states clearly establish different definitions of proficiency, little research explores how this affects different demographic groups. This study examines the demographics of students in states with low expectations of proficiency when compared to those with high expectations. The findings indicate that although lower performance standards are expected of some demographic groups, the pattern is not uniform: In the 4th grade, the median African-American student faces a lower proficiency cut-score in both math and reading than the median white, median Hispanic, median ELL and median poor student. By 8th grade, however, there is virtually no "expectations gap." These findings suggest that the achievement gap is not primarily the product of different formal expectations facing students. In short, schooling contexts likely better explain the continued existence of the test-score gap. (Contains 1 table, 2 figures and 4 footnotes.)
American Association of School Administrators. 801 North Quincy Street Suite 700, Arlington, VA 22203-1730. Tel: 703-528-0700; Fax: 703-841-1543; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 4; Grade 8; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States