The majority of states require less and less from students in order to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. In fact, when it comes to reading and math, most states set the bar far lower than what the national standards consider proficient, according to a recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics. 24/7 Wall St. has identified which states require the least of their students.
The educational assessment system is a complicated one. The federal government, through the No Child Left Behind initiative, demands that each state achieves a certain level in its education system. That level is measured by the percentage of students that are considered “proficient.” Each year, more kids have to become proficient, according to the Adequate Yearly Progress measurement, or AYP. By 2014, 100% of students will have to be proficient in math and reading.
However, despite having national exams to assess 4th and 8th grade students’ math and reading levels through the National Assessment of Educational Progress, states actually control their own assessment program. What’s more, they even determine the standards, including what is considered proficient. As they aimed to meet the ever rising federal education requirements as determined by No Child Left Behind, many states have lowered their standards for what students must know. In fact, most states’ standards are far below what NAEP considers proficient, or even “basic.”
So while the statistics may show more students are passing the state’s bar, the numbers misrepresent how well they are being taught and which schools are doing poorly.
These lowered expectations ultimately hurt the children. Many students who would not normally be considered proficient at reading or math are assessed as being so. This causes them to be pushed through the educational system without gaining what many regard as a sufficient education to prepare them for later in life. As Joann Weiss, chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, told the Wall Street Journal, “Fifty different bars are not good for kids, especially as we move toward global competitiveness.”
No Child Left Behind requirements finally seem to be letting up, however. Duncan recently announced that states can apply to receive a waiver from meeting all the conditions. Many of the states that have either already applied for a waiver, or are considering it, are included on this list. The list looks at the ten states with the lowest requirements for students in 4th and 8th grade math and reading.
Although some states, such as Tennessee, have made changes in the ways they assess students since 2009, major adjustments still must be made to ensure actual proficiency among students in all states.
24/7 Wall St. used the recently released NCES state standards for 2009 to determine the states that expect the least of their students. We also looked at outside data, including AYP data from state education departments and national standardized test scores provided by NCES.
These are the ten states that expect the least of their students.