State assessment tests tell us that North Carolina students are performing well and improving each year. Yet national standardized tests are more rigorous and paint a picture of much poorer achievement and slower progress. Much of the difference comes down to the fact that our state tests compare today’s students to a curve based on students 15 years ago, and a lot has changed in since then.
The bottom line?
The information provided by North Carolina standardized tests is limited and can be misleading. At best, it gives only an overall picture of how student knowledge has improved over time. At worst, it contributes to a false sense of complacency. The student proficiency benchmark is not tied to the demands of today’s society or workforce. Other states have made tough decisions to sacrifice good marks for a more rigorous (and accurate) measure of student proficiency. Without such a measure, we cannot tell whether we have truly done the job we set out to do 15 years ago. Our job is not to prepare citizens for standards of the past, but for challenges of the future.
People interested in education should read the whole critique. It points to a state education bureaucracy engaged in circuitous self-justification with metrics at odds with national standards.