The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences under the National Center for Education Statistics just posted an interesting study titled “Mapping State Proficiency Standards Onto the NAEP Scales: Results From the 2017 NAEP Reading and Mathematics Assessments.” Essentially, this study uses the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) as a ruler to allow what each state calls proficient work on that state’s assessments to be compared to what other states consider proficient work. The report features four graphics to show how those comparisons work out.
There are some puzzles for Kentucky in this.
This first graphic is for Grade 4 reading in each state (some states lack NAEP data for various reasons and are not shown).
On this Grade/Subject graph, Kentucky actually sets a performance level for proficient work that is about in the middle of the pack, although what Kentucky calls proficient work (a NAEP equivalent score of about 228) is definitely lower performance than what the NAEP itself says is a proficient performance (A score of 238). But, the Kentucky Grade 4 reading standard isn’t out of line with other states.
This next graph is for Grade 4 math.
Once again, Kentucky’s KPREP scoring falls around the middle, or maybe a bit above the middle level of rigor across the states. However, once again what Kentucky calls proficient work is less than what the NAEP requires to earn that score.
But, watch what happens when we shift to Grade 8 scoring.
This is the Grade 8 Reading graph.
Uh, Oh! Kentucky’s KPREP assessment for Grade 8 reading has a standard for proficiency that is just about the lowest of any state for Grade 8 reading. The vast majority of states require better performances before they award a Proficient reading score to their students.
Finally, here is the Grade 8 math picture.
As with the Grade 8 reading situation, Kentucky’s KPREP assessment for Grade 8 math has a standard for proficiency that is just about the lowest of any state for Grade 8 math. The vast majority of states require better performances before they award a Proficient reading score to their students.
So, here is the deal. Kentucky’s KPREP for Grade 4 might at least set comparable proficiency standards to those used in other states, but by Grade 8 Kentucky expects something notably less than other states require.
Also, Kentucky’s KPREP presents students and parents with an inflated picture of progress from Grade 4 to Grade 8, as well.
That brings to mind an old saying from my military days about “Sets low standards and fails to achieve them.” You see, when the NAEP Data Explorer shows that in 2017 in Grade 8 Math only 29% of Kentucky’s students were proficient while in Grade 8 reading only 34% scored proficient, we sure aren’t achieving at high levels, are we. But KPREP isn’t honestly telling us that.
We will learn some more later this year once the 2019 KPREP and NAEP scores get released. When the new KPREP comes out, keep in mind that it probably will be overstating the real level of performance in the Bluegrass State.