Thursday, August 11, 2011

More States Strengthening Rigor of Assessments

Education Week
Published Online: August 10, 2011
Updated: August 11, 2011
More States Strengthening Rigor of Assessments

By Stephen Sawchuk

A handful of states have increased the rigor of their state assessments since 2007, an analysis released today by the statistical wing of the U.S. Department of Education concludes.

The finding stands in contrast to earlier studies of state proficiency standards—often referred to as cutoff scores—released by the federal agency, which has generally found mixed patterns in the rigor of states’ 4th and 8th grade proficiency standards in reading and mathematics. Its 2009 report, using the same methodology, found dozens of instances between 2005 and 2007 in which states had lowered their expectations for students.

“We’re actually seeing [states] increase the rigor of their cut scores, at least between 2007 and 2009,” Jack Buckley, the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, said during a conference call with reporters. “That doesn’t fit into the narrative of states lowering their bars” in response to the performance pressures of the No Child Left Behind Act.

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