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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 maths, most states set the bar far lower than what the national standards consider proficient, according to a recent report from the National centre 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 maths and reading.
See ‘The 10 States That Expect the Least of Their Students’ on 24/7 Wall Street >
However, despite having national exams to assess 4th and 8th grade students’ maths 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.”
These lowered expectations ultimately hurt the children. Many students who would not normally be considered proficient at reading or maths 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, “50 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 10 states with the lowest requirements for students in 4th and 8th grade maths 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.
Grade 4 reading: 186 (8th lowest)
Grade 4 maths: 217 (16th lowest)
Grade 8 reading: 236 (12th lowest)
Grade 8 maths: 265 (18th lowest)
Despite holding students to academic standards that are significantly below national standards, Kansas students score very well on national tests. This is specifically true with regards to national maths exams. Kansas students score among the top 10 states for both 4th and 8th grade maths testing. Still, 77 of 289 Kansas school districts failed to meet rising federal requirements for reading and maths proficiency for the 2010-2011 school year.
Grade 4 reading: 198 (20th lowest)
Grade 4 maths: 207 (5th lowest)
Grade 8 reading: 234 (10th lowest)
Grade 8 maths: 251 (5th lowest)
Illinois requires exceptionally low scores for both reading and maths proficiency. The state's students scored within the bottom 20 states on national maths exams for 2009. Illinois reportedly may now seek a waiver from the Department of Education that would grant it relief from meeting AYP requirements.
Grade 4 reading: 178 (3rd lowest)
Grade 4 maths: 218 (18th lowest)
Grade 8 reading: 209 (2nd lowest)
Grade 8 maths: 247 (3rd lowest)
Georgia has among the lowest proficiency bars in the country for 4th grade reading and 8th grade reading and maths. The state performs within the bottom 20 states on national exams for all four categories considered for this ranking. For the 2010-2011 school year, 37% of Georgia schools fell short of AYP criteria. Georgia is now seeking a waiver to excuse itself from meeting AYP requirements.
Grade 4 reading: 179 (4th lowest)
Grade 4 maths: 207 (4th lowest)
Grade 8 reading: 234 (9th lowest)
Grade 8 maths: 246 (2nd lowest)
In addition to having some of the lowest standards in the country for reading and maths, Alabama has the second-lowest national standardized scores for 4th and 8th grade maths and is in the bottom 10 states for 4th and 8th grade reading. Alabama did not significantly change its standards between 2007 and 2009, except in 8th grade maths, which dropped seven NAEP points. More recently, the state has begun doing worse at meeting AYP requirements. In 2010, 75% of Alabama's public schools met AYP standards. For 2011, the rate dropped to 72%.
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