To Improve the Nation’s Schools, First Close the Honesty Gap

In The News

November 15, 2022

From The 74

By Rianna Saslow

November 15, 2022

The 2022 NAEP results reveal alarmingly poor academic performance that should be a call to action for big change in our education system. But what are stakeholders — parents, policymakers, voters and taxpayers — to make of the mixed messages they are getting on how well their schools are educating their students?

The National Assessment of Educational Progress is a highly respected and objective set of assessments that consistently holds students to a high level of academic rigor and acts as a neutral referee in comparing states to one another. But outside of 26 large urban districts, NAEP results are available only at the state level. Moreover, there are no NAEP data whatsoever for individual schools.

For collecting district- and school-level achievement data, statewide exams are administered each year, as required under federal law. But, by and large, states set a bar for academic proficiency that is lower than that for the NAEP. This is a phenomenon that some have referred to as the “honesty gap.” Past analyses have found that states vary widely in how closely their proficiency rates on state tests track those on the NAEP.

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