Assessing Proficiency State by State
July 8, 2015

In the coming year, states across the nation will be reviewing proficiency cut scores (the line every state draws to determine if a student is proficient in a subject) on their annual student assessments.

Currently, many states have low expectations for proficiency. This leads parents and teachers to believe students are performing better than they actually are. And the data shows this impacts students’ chance for success in college or in a career:

  • 50 percent of students entering two-year colleges are placed in remediation (Source: Complete College America, Remediation: Higher Education’s Bridge to Nowhere, 2012).
  • $7 billion is spent annually by first-year college students to learn what they should have mastered in high school (Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Improving the Targeting of Treatment: Evidence from College Remediation, 2012).
  • There are 600,000 vacant American manufacturing jobs due to the lack of qualified applicants (Source: The Manufacturing Institute, The Growing Skills Gap Report, 2013 & Deloitte: The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing 2015 and Beyond).

Choosing strong proficiency cut scores will help states create education systems that prepare every child to succeed in the next grade and beyond high school. But raising expectations will also cause a temporary drop in student scores. Parents and education stakeholders need to be prepared for this change.

Last week, the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) introduced WhyProficiencyMatters.com to help parents understand what proficiency means in their state and how it impacts their children.

The interactive site presents the facts, data and analyses on proficiency expectations in all 50 states. It empowers parents to explore the gap created by the difference between their state and the National Assessment of Educational Progress’ (NAEP) proficiency expectation. With downloadable fact sheets and a myriad of social sharing options, parents and advocates are just a few clicks away from being informed and engaged.

We hope these tools will be useful for advocates and parents to share this information, join the call to action, and encourage state leaders to raise proficiency cut scores to better prepare every child to succeed in the next grade and beyond high school.

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Jaryn Emhof

Jaryn is the Foundation for Excellence in Education's Vice President of Communications


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