After yesterdays pathetic article from the WaPo suggesting that scores were “up” (whatever that means under the moronic patchwork that evolved under the law) it was nice to see the NYT get it right. Their article exposes the joke of state standardized testing in response to the law, and further demonstrates how meaningless standardized testing is as a way to reform schools.
The law requires that all students be brought to proficiency by 2014, but lets each state set its own proficiency standards and choose its own tests to measure achievement.
In essence, the report issued today creates a common yardstick of proficiency, by examining the minimum proficiency score on each state’s tests of reading and math and then determining what the equivalent score would be on the math and reading components of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The results illustrated starkly that some states’ standard for proficiency are much lower than others’.
For example, an eighth grader in Tennessee can meet that state’s standards for math proficiency with a state test score that is the equivalent of a 230 on the national test. But in Missouri, an eighth grader would need the equivalent of a 311.
And while a Mississippi fourth grader can meet the state’s reading proficiency standard with a state score that corresponds to a 161 on the national test, a Massachusetts fourth grader would need the equivalent of a 234. Such score differences represent a gap of several grade levels.
In some cases, the differences between one state’s proficiency standards and another’s were more than twice as large as the national gap between minority and white students’ reading levels, which averages about 30 points on the national assessment test, according to Grover J. Whitehurst. Mr. Whitehurst is the director of the education department’s Institute of Education Sciences; he and the Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, spoke to reporters about the report by telephone on Wednesday.
NCLB is a joke, and based on this administrations track record on, well, everything, no one should be surprised. What is most shameful about this whole debacle of a law, is the cynical use of education as a political tool. The architects of this policy had to know that the results in Texas were a scam, but that didn’t stop them from pushing it nationally to create a false statistical bump in test scores that they could use to claim a victory in education reform.