Despite North Carolina students’ steady improvement in reading and math, their performance on state end-of-grade tests has been far better than on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In fact, North Carolina stands out because of the wide gap between results on the state and national tests.
In 2005, about 84 percent of North Carolina eighth-graders earned proficient or better scores on state math tests; 32 percent were proficient or advanced on the national math test. Only West Virginia showed a sharper difference.
“When you see the huge disparity that you do between proficiency levels [on state and national tests], at least part of it is about rigor,” said Ross Weiner, policy director for the Education Trust, a Washington group that advocates for poor and minority students. “North Carolina has a bigger difference than most other states. That raises questions about expectations and whether North Carolina’s standards are high enough to demonstrate that students are learning what they need to know.”