New Data Suggest "Honesty Gaps" Between State-Reported Student Proficiency Rates and State NAEP Scores Are Closing

States Trending Toward Increased Transparency

Just a Handful of States Continue to Mislead About Student Proficiency

Jan 28, 2016, 13:30 ET from Collaborative for Student Success

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being released by Collaborative for Student Success:

Eight months after the education reform group Achieve released a blockbuster analysis that found many states were grossly misleading the public on whether K-12 students were proficient in the most basic reading and math skills, The Honesty Gap appears to be closing in a significant way. That is the finding of a just-released 50-state analysis by Achieve based on a new round of test scores furnished by states. The analysis compares new state scores with results furnished last fall by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a biennially administered test considered the 'gold standard' in student assessments.

"The results of this new analysis tell us that many states have resolved to take seriously the responsibility of providing parents and kids with honest and accurate information, and that is obviously a very encouraging development," said Karen Nussle, executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success. "Policymakers are mustering the political courage to level with parents about the fact that our students are not prepared for college or the workforce, and are now able to make policies that align with the reality of student preparedness."

The report released today found three major findings:

  1. The Honesty Gap has significantly narrowed in nearly half the states since August 2015 as states have become more transparent. In the past year, 18 states demonstrated an improvement of at least 10 percentage points by closing The Honesty Gap in both 4th Grade reading and 8th Grade math since 2013 (the last time NAEP was administered). The states are: AK, AZ, AR, DE, DC, GA, HI, IL, IN, LA, ME, MD, MS, NH, OH, OR, PA and SC. These states join three others with 2014-15 state scores that are so closely aligned to NAEP scores that they are, for all intents and purposes, identical (less than 5 percentage points deviation): MA, NY and UT.
  2. The number of states in which The Honesty Gap is narrow has nearly tripled since 2015. Achieve's analysis from May 2015 identified only six states (AL, MA, MN, NY, UT and WI) in which The Honesty Gap was 15 percentage points or smaller in both 4th Grade reading and 8th Grade math. Today, that number has nearly tripled to 17 states: AL, CO, ID, KY, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NM, NY, RI, UT, VT, WA, WV and WI.
  3. The Honesty Gap remains very large in only a handful of states, meaning they are misleading parents about student proficiency. Just four states continue to dramatically mislead the public about student proficiency rates, down from 18 states last year. Today, The Honesty Gap is 35 percentage points or greater in IA, OK, TX and VA.

Achieve and The Collaborative for Student Success singled out two states in particular – Georgia and Arkansas – for taking exemplary steps toward closing The Honesty Gap. In 2015, Georgia had the most pronounced discrepancy in the nation between the proficiency rates reflected in its state assessment, the Georgia Milestones, and the NAEP.  Since then, policy makers citing Achieve's analysis, resolved to correct course. Today, Georgia is among the best in the nation at providing transparent information to parents. Similarly, The Honesty Gap in Arkansas had been among the biggest in the nation in 2013-14. Since then, proficiency rates reported by the state have moved dramatically to more closely align with the NAEP. As a result, parents in Arkansas are now the beneficiaries of a more honest and straightforward reporting system.

The presence or absence of new, higher standards and modernized, aligned assessments appears to correlate to The Honesty Gap. All of the 24 states identified as Top Truth Tellers in 2015 are adopters of the Common Core State Standards or other similar high-quality, comparable education standards (AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, DE, GA, ID, IL, MA, MD, ME, MI, MS, NH, NM, NY, RI, SC, SD, UT, VT, WV and WI). Conversely, three of the four states in which The Honesty Gap is glaring have rejected the Common Core (OK, TX and VA).  

"The closing of The Honesty Gap puts parents and students in a much better position to evaluate whether they are on track to master the content and skills needed to succeed in college or in a 21st Century career," said Sandy Boyd, chief operating officer for Achieve. "With reliable, transparent information, students will have a better grasp of their readiness for their futures, while avoiding the high-cost of college remediation courses, and which careers they are best suited for."

About Achieve:
Achieve is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization dedicated to working with states to raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability. Created in 1996 by a bipartisan group of governors and business leaders, it works with state teams, governors, state education officials, postsecondary leaders and business executives to make college and career readiness a priority across the country so that students graduating from high school are academically prepared for postsecondary success.

About the Collaborative for Student Success:
The Collaborative for Student Success is a grant-making initiative created with the pooled resources of a diverse group of regional and national education foundations deeply committed to improving public education. Its members share the belief that the successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards is an important next step in ensuring that all students are prepared to succeed at college level work. The mission of the Collaborative is to support the state-led efforts of State Education Agencies and local education organizations responsible for educating and informing stakeholders – parents, teachers, and community leaders – about the new state standards and assessments.


SOURCE Collaborative for Student Success