Nonprofit criticizes Idaho’s ‘proficiency gap’

Idaho’s “cut scores” on standardized tests are far out of line with student performance, contributing to a “proficiency gap,” an education nonprofit group said Monday.

The Foundation for Excellence in Education compared states’ grading criteria with their students’ performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. The foundation dubbed the difference in scores the “proficiency gap,” and said Idaho had some of the largest gaps in the nation.

NAEP logoFor example, 90 percent of Idaho fourth-graders received a proficient score for reading, but only 33 percent replicated this performance on NAEP. This 57 percentage point gap ranked No. 48 in the nation. Idaho had similarly large gaps on fourth-grade math and eighth-grade reading (both ranked No. 49 nationally), and in eighth-grade math (ranking No. 43 nationally).

States set their own proficiency threshold — known as a “cut score.”

“When the proficiency cut score is too low, it conveys a false sense of student achievement to parents, teachers and educators,” the foundation said in a news release Monday. “This false sense of achievement damages students’ long–term chance for success in college or the work force.”

The Foundation for Excellence in Education, founded by former Florida Gov. (and GOP presidential candidate) Jeb Bush, endorses a range of education overhauls, and says it seeks to become a “one-stop shop for those working to reform education.”

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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