Wisconsin students continue to fare far better on the state’s standardized tests than they do on those given by the federal government, according to a new analysis that raises questions about what it means to be “proficient.”
About 70% to 85% of Wisconsin students were considered proficient or better on the state’s reading and math tests for the 2005-’06 school year. Yet only 33% to 40% of the state’s fourth- and eighth-graders scored at least proficient on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress in those subjects, according to the study by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.
The state was one of 16 in the country that had a proficiency gap of 45 to 55 percentage points, the Taxpayers Alliance found. Several states, such as Oklahoma and Mississippi, had even larger differences between the percentage of students considered proficient by their states as opposed to the federal government.
“It just creates confusion,” said Dale Knapp, research director for the Taxpayers Alliance. “We want a sense of what our students know, where they sort of stand. And we’re really getting two different answers that are very different answers.”
The blame doesn’t necessarily fall on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations, said Tony Evers, deputy superintendent of the state Department of Public Instruction, which administers the tests annually.
“Math is the same in Madison as it is in Missouri as it is in Mumbai.” – Michael Petrilli,
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, a group that has raised the idea of national standards
“What that ought to be is a big signal to the folks in Wisconsin that they really need to evaluate the rigor of their standards and their assessment.” – Daria Hall, Education Trust
More on the Fordham Foundation’s report and EdTrust. Finally, WISTAX offers a free report on testing.
One thought on “Wisconsin Math, reading proficiency are much higher on state exams than on federal”
This is getting tiresome — mindless rehashing of inappropriate comparisons between state testing and NAEP results. Both are not adequate measures of student achievement it seems to me.
Maybe at some point, though likely never, will those who continue to repeat these claims ad nauseum stop — “Don’t confuse me with the facts.” But from NCES (National Center for Educational Statistics, Dept of Education):
“The NAS [National Academy of Science] Panel basically concurred with earlier congressionally mandated studies. The Panel concluded that “NAEP’s current achievement level setting procedures remain fundamentally flawed. The judgment tasks are difficult and confusing; raters’ judgments of different item types are internally inconsistent; appropriate validity evidence for the cut scores is lacking; and the process has produced unreasonable results.”
Specifically, the NAS Panel concluded that “…tracking changes in the percentages of students performing at or above those cut scores (or, in fact, any selected cut scores) can be of use in describing changes in student performance over time.”
“NCES agrees with the National Academy’s recommendation that caution needs to be exercised in the use of the current achievement levels. ”
That is, using NAEP for tracking trends over time within NAEP testing itself is okay, but comparison between NAEP and any other measure of achievement is not acceptable. That is, the conclusion made here that the NAEP results show that the state tests are lying is fundamentally wrong.
NAEP no more or less objectively measures the knowledge acquisition or achievement than other tests.
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