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An early look at how 2018–19 state proficiency standards map onto NAEP Scales

Map of the United States with states outlined.

The NCES publication Mapping State Proficiency Standards Onto the NAEP Scales is the go-to study for comparing what states across the country expect from their students (i.e., their standards for proficient performance). The study uses rigorous methodology and quality control measures to ensure comparisons are valid. Currently, NCES is working on the quality measures for our full-scale report for the 2018-19 school year.

This post shares an early look at the standing of states’ SY 2018-19 standards of proficient performance in reference to achievement levels set for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). These early-look results are based on the methodology similar to the bi-annually released NCES study on mapping state proficiency standards but use state-level assessment data posted online. These data were the percentages of students who met the cut score for the state standard for proficient performance in school year 2018–19. NCES used data that were available as of January 31, 2020 and found a total of 43 states had posted the data necessary to produce NAEP scale score equivalents (NSE) to estimate state standards for proficient performance in reading and mathematics at grades 4 and 8.

Results using the website data are shown in tables 1, 2, and 3. Table 1 lists the number of states with standards that mapped at each NAEP achievement level, table 2 shows the mapped NAEP proficiency levels by state, and table 3 presents the list of states that are excluded from the 2018-19 mapping study with various reasons explained in the NOTE.

Table 1. Number of states with proficiency standards that mapped at each NAEP achievement level based on states’ web-posted data, by grade and subject: 2019
NAEP Basic
NAEP Basic NAEP Proficient NAEP AdvancedTotal

Table 2. Estimated NAEP achievement levels based on states’ web-posted data on proficiency standards, by state, grade, and subject: 2019
StateGrade 4Grade 8
AlabamaNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
AlaskaNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Proficient
ArkansasNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
ColoradoNAEP BasicNAEP ProficientNAEP BasicNAEP Proficient
ConnecticutNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
DelawareNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
District of ColumbiaNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
FloridaNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
GeorgiaNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
HawaiiNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
IllinoisNAEP ProficientNAEP ProficientNAEP BasicNAEP Proficient
KansasNAEP BasicNAEP ProficientNAEP ProficientNAEP Proficient
LouisianaNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
MarylandNAEP BasicNAEP ProficientNAEP BasicNAEP Advanced
MassachusettsNAEP BasicNAEP ProficientNAEP BasicNAEP Proficient
MississippiNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
MissouriNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Proficient
MontanaNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Proficient
NevadaNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
New JerseyNAEP BasicNAEP ProficientNAEP Basic
New MexicoNAEP BasicNAEP ProficientNAEP Basic
New YorkNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
North CarolinaNAEP BasicNAEP ProficientNAEP BasicNAEP Proficient
North DakotaNAEP BasicNAEP ProficientNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
OhioNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
OklahomaNAEP ProficientNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Proficient
OregonNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
PennsylvaniaNAEP BasicNAEP ProficientNAEP BasicNAEP Proficient
Puerto RicoBelow NAEP BasicBelow NAEP Basic
Rhode IslandNAEP ProficientNAEP ProficientNAEP ProficientNAEP Proficient
South CarolinaNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
TennesseeNAEP ProficientNAEP BasicNAEP ProficientNAEP Proficient
TexasBelow NAEP BasicNAEP BasicBelow NAEP Basic
VirginiaBelow NAEP BasicNAEP BasicBelow NAEP Basic
WashingtonNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
West VirginiaNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
WisconsinNAEP BasicNAEP ProficientNAEP ProficientNAEP Proficient
WyomingNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP BasicNAEP Basic
† Not applicable

Table 3. States that were not included in the early-look of mapping study based on states’ web-posted data, by grade and subject: 2018-19
SubjectGrade 4Grade 8
ReadingArizona, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Puerto RicoArizona, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Nebraska
MathematicsArizona, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Puerto RicoArizona, District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Texas, and Virginia

NOTE: Puerto Rico was not included in 2019 because the NAEP reading assessment was not administrated in the jurisdiction. Arizona was excluded because its data file has combined results from fall 2018 and spring 2019 for all grades and subjects. Indiana, Minnesota, and Nebraska were excluded because their data were based on the combined results of a general assessment and an alternative assessment for all grades and subjects. Michigan was excluded because their data might include results for nonpublic schools for all grades and subjects. The District of Columbia, Florida, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Texas, and Virginia were excluded because these states did not require all eligible students to take general mathematics assessments in grade 8. California, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Utah, and Vermont are not included because 2018-19 data were not available on the state website by January 31, 2020. Although Kentucky’s 2018-19 data had been posted, the data had been relocated to a new webpage and was not found on the original data site.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2019 Reading and Mathematics Assessments; and 2018–19 percentage of students meeting the state proficient standards for reading and mathematics, as posted on each state’s website.

Tables 1, 2, and 3 use state assessment data and notes that were found on the states’ websites. We anticipate that, as we go through our quality measures to determine eligibility (e.g., to determine student populations who took the state assessment and the NAEP assessment and verify that content between the two assessments is comparable), some states reported here will not be reported in the full-scale mapping study. It is also worth noting that, unlike the full-scale mapping study, estimates for states that used consortium assessments (e.g., ACT, SBAC, PARCC) are estimated only individually but we expect the estimates for testing programs as a whole to be part of the full-scale mapping study.

Please note these early-look results do not have the same degree of reliability as those of the full-scale study. The full-scale study will include an estimate of the relative error and a better estimate of the sampling variance. We will also more accurately determine each state’s eligibility for inclusion in the study. However, NCES feels this preliminary snapshot of state mapping contributes to the discussion in a useful manner while awaiting the full report.

Our intention in sharing this first set of results is to

  • foster open communication between NCES and interested consumers of the NCES mapping study report;
  • show how state standards could be mapped onto the NAEP scale earlier than is typical (bearing in mind the limitations);
  • ask consumers to share with NCES their views and comments regarding this first set of results and make suggestions about their expectations for the mapping study process in the future; and
  • highlight the importance of sharing with the public both assessment results and relevant information that can aid in accurate interpretation and comparisons across states.

NOTE: These mapping results do not suggest an evaluation of state assessments or of the quality of state achievement standards. State and NAEP assessments are developed for different but related purposes and can vary in format and administration. The results of this study are not to suggest that NAEP achievement levels are more valid or states should emulate NAEP standards.


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