Teachers across the state are now doing their best to help prepare students for success on the new exams. We won’t know until sometime next summer how our students have done on the first full implementation of SBAC tests, which will be given next spring. While concerns about those scores are warranted, we have some reason to be optimistic, especially in comparison with other states.
As I reported previously in this blog, Washington’s students ranked 7th overall on the 2013 administration of the National Assessment of Student Progress (NAEP). That is the best measure available for state-to-state comparisons of student achievement. The National Center for Education Statistics has also done a series of mapping studies to compare state proficiency standards with the NAEP standards. Their latest study uses the 2009 NAEP scores as the basis for comparison.
In that study, a separate analysis was done for each of four NAEP tests including 4th and 8th grade reading and mathematics. In 8th grade mathematics, for example, the state with the highest standard is Massachusetts. Their proficiency standard equates to a NAEP scale score equivalent of 300. Tennessee is the state with the lowest standard which equals a NAEP scale score equivalent of 229. Washington is second in that analysis with a 288 NAEP equivalent score for our standard.
By averaging the ranking on the state proficiency standards for all four NAEP assessments, one gets a pretty good measure of the relative rigor of each state’s assessment system. In that calculation, Washington State comes out 5th overall. Why is that important? It should mean that our students will have a less difficult transition from our old assessment system to the higher SBAC proficiency standards than students in most other states.
The American Institutes for Research has done a similar benchmarking of state standards to international assessments. Their analysis used results from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) for benchmarking standards for 4th and 8th grade mathematics and results from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) for 4th grade reading. In that study Washington’s performance standards ranked 10th overall with those three tests.
These comparisons highlight the fact that Washington’s previous assessment system was very rigorous when compared with other states as benchmarked against both national and international standards. Given that fact, we can be cautiously optimistic that our students will fare relatively well on the new SBAC assessments.