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Key Findings from the 2009 NAEP State Mapping Analysis


Key Findings 

The following are the key findings regarding state proficiency standards as they are measured on the NAEP scale.

State standards in 2009

There is a wide variation among state proficiency standards.

  • In 2009, as in 2003, 2005, and 2007, using NAEP as a common metric, standards for proficient performance in reading and mathematics varied across states in terms of the levels of achievement required. For example, for grade 4 reading, the difference in the level required for proficient performance between the five states with the highest standards and the five with the lowest standards was comparable to the difference between Basic and Proficient performance on NAEP. The results for reading at grade 8 and mathematics in both grades were similar.

Most states' proficiency standards are at or below NAEP's definition of Basic performance.

  • In grade 4 reading, 35 of the 50 states included in the analysis set standards for proficiency (as measured on the NAEP scale) that were lower than the scale score for Basic performance on NAEP and another 15 were in the NAEP Basic range. In grade 8 reading, 16 of 50 states set standards that were lower than the cut-point for Basic performance on NAEP and another 34 were in the NAEP Basic range.

  • In grade 4 mathematics, seven of the 50 states included in the analysis set standards for proficiency (as measured on the NAEP scale) that were lower than the Basic performance on NAEP, 42 were in the NAEP Basic range, and one in the Proficient range. In grade 8 mathematics, 12 of 49 states included in the analysis set standards that were lower than the Basic performance on NAEP, 36 were in the NAEP Basic range, and one in the Proficient range.

Change in state standards from 2005 and 2007

While NAEP adopted a revised reading framework in 2009, comparability with earlier assessments was maintained. During the same period, however, some states made changes in their assessments—changes substantial enough that the states indicated comparisons between scores of successive administrations were not possible.

Comparisons between the 2009 mapping results and the 2005 and 2007 mapping results in reading and mathematics at grades 4 and 8 were conducted separately for states that made changes in their testing systems and for those that made no such changes.

For those states that made substantive changes in their assessment between 2007 and 2009 most moved toward more rigorous standards as measured by NAEP.

  • When examined across grades 4 and 8 for both reading and mathematics, of the 34 cases where states reported changes in their assessments (9 states in reading and 8 states in mathematics), the rigor of the standards increased in 21 cases, 8 showed no change in their standards, and in 5 cases the rigor of their standards (as measured by NAEP scale equivalents) decreased.

For those states that made substantive changes in their assessment between 2005 and 2009, changes in the rigor of states’ standards as measured by NAEP were mixed but showed more decreases than increases in the rigor of their standards.

  • When examined across grades 4 and 8 for both reading and mathematics, of the 79 cases where states reported changes in their assessments (17 states in grade 4 reading, 20 in grade 8 reading, 19 in grade 4 mathematics, and 23 in grade 8 mathematics), the rigor of the standards increased in 25 cases, 14 showed no change in their standards, and in 40 cases the rigor of their standards (as measured by NAEP scale equivalents) decreased.

Using NAEP to corroborate state-reported changes in the proportion of students meeting a state's standard for proficiency from 2007 to 2009 and from 2005 to 2009

Changes in the proportion of students meeting states’ standards for proficiency between 2007 and 2009 are not corroborated by the proportion of students meeting proficiency, as measured by NAEP, in at least half of the states in the comparison sample.

  • In both subjects, changes in achievement between 2007 and 2009 on the state assessments do not agree with changes as measured by NAEP in the same period in at least half of the 40 states with comparable assessments in both years (22 to 26 depending on the subject and grade). In other words, the state assessment and NAEP reports show changes in percentages of students meeting the state’s standard that are significantly different from each other. In most cases (17 to 22 depending on the subject and grade), states’ results show more positive changes than NAEP results (larger gains or smaller losses).

Results of comparisons between changes in the proportion of students meeting states’ standards for proficiency between 2005 and 2009 and the proportion of students meeting proficiency, as measured by NAEP, were mixed.

  • The changes from 2005 to 2009 were mixed. For the two subject areas and grade levels, 16 to 18 states have comparable assessments in 2005 and 2009. In reading at grade 4 and in mathematics at grade 8, the changes in the proportion of students meeting the state’s proficiency standard are not significantly different from the changes in the proportion meeting the standard as measured by NAEP in more than half of the states (10 of 17 states and 10 of 16 states, respectively). However, these changes are different from each other in more than half of the states in reading at grade 8 (14 of 18 states) and mathematics at grade 4 (10 of 16 states). In most cases, states’ results showed more positive changes (12 of 14 and 8 of 10 states, respectively).

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State Profiles 

The 2009 State Mapping report is supplemented by a survey that was conducted to gain contextual information about the general characteristics of a state's assessment program, and to identify any changes in that program since 2007 that could affect the interpretation of the 2009 mapping results. Download your state's profile to see information about the methodology of this survey and results for your state.

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Summary Data Tables 

State standards 

Change in standards from 2005 to 2009

Change in standards from 2007 to 2009 

NAEP corroborating state-reported changes in student achievement from 2005 to 2009

NAEP corroborating state-reported changes in student achievement from 2007 to 2009

Additional information

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Last updated 04 August 2011 (EP)
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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education