According to a report in the journal Education Next, raising expectations for student performance doesn’t necessarily mean that students will deliver results. In fact, researchers have found no correlation between a rise in state standards and a rise in student achievement.
Education Next has tracked student proficiency on standardised tests since 2005, which is then compared to the proficiency rate on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a national exam by the Department of Education. The higher the percentage of students found proficient on a state exam compared to the percentage identified as proficient by NAEP, the lower the state’s proficiency standard. If states set their proficiency bar high, the difference between their test and the NAEP will be small. However, states have preferred setting their bar low, leading people to believe that students are proficient when in reality, according to the NAEP, they were actually falling behind.
According to researchers, although the gap between state test scores and NAEP scores have narrowed in recent years to only 9 percent in 2017, this is still not good news. Researchers suggest that “even though states have raised their standards, they have not found a way to translate these new benchmarks into higher levels of student test performance”. This doesn’t necessarily mean that state standards are not effective. Rather, it could be the result of a multitude of factors such as the 2008 financial crisis and the declining spending on schools and education in subsequent years.
In my opinion, this article lends some valuable insights. However, it would have been better if it had also explored students’ abilities to cope with higher academic standards. Ultimately, we need to ask ourselves what is the main objective of setting higher academic standards and expectations? Would it deepen students’ appreciation of learning or inspire their thirst for learning? Or would it encourage students to focus more on chasing down good grades than immersing themselves in the joy of learning?
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