New Report from NCES Shows States Adopting More Rigorous Standards

Since 2003, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has published periodic reports that show where each state’s standard for proficient performance in reading and mathematics at grades 4 and 8 falls on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scale. Because all states participate in NAEP for these grades and subjects, it is possible to benchmark states’ proficiency standards with the NAEP achievement levels.

State Mapping State Chart

The recently-released sixth edition, Mapping State Proficiency Standards Onto the NAEP Scales: Results From the 2015 NAEP Reading and Mathematics Assessments, used state public school assessment results from the 2014–15 school year and 2015 NAEP assessment results. The report indicates that states have greatly increased the rigor of their proficiency standards.

Over the past decade, almost all states' proficiency standards have moved out of the below Basic range for grades 4 and 8 reading and mathematics. (See more about NAEP achievement level definitions). Even in comparison to 2013, there have been striking increases in rigor as indicated by shifts in NAEP equivalent scores—the placement of state standards for proficient performance in reading and mathematics onto the 0-500 NAEP scale. Most notably, the range between the highest and lowest NAEP equivalent scores decreased across all grades and subjects between 2013 and 2015. This decrease was mostly due to movement at the bottom of the scale, indicating that those states with the lowest equivalent scores have made significant gains in just a couple of years. The following charts provide a summary of these findings.

State Mapping Reading Chart State Mapping Mathematics Chart
State Mapping Scale Scores 2015 and 2013

Overall, the 2015 Report on State Proficiency Standards allows policymakers and researchers to compare state changes in standards of student performance. The report does not evaluate state assessments or the quality of states’ achievement standards, nor does it link individual student scores to the NAEP scale.

For more information on 2015 Report on State Proficiency Standards and its results, click here.

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