States Fail to Raise Bar in Reading, Math Tests

Stephanie Banchero:

Eight states have raised their standards for passing elementary-school math and reading tests in recent years, but these states and most others still fall below national benchmarks, according to a federal report released Wednesday.
The data help explain the disconnect between the relatively high pass rates on many state tests and the low scores on the national exams, known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
In fourth-grade reading, for example, 35 states set passing bars that are below the “basic” level on the national NAEP exam. “Basic” means students have a satisfactory understanding of material, as opposed to “proficient,” which means they have a solid grasp of it. Massachusetts is the only state to set its bar at “proficient”–and that was only in fourth- and eighth-grade math.