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What North Dakota Students Don't Know Can Hurt Them

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., Oct. 13, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- North Dakota's education leaders have an important opportunity to save their students from a future of college remediation and an irreversible skills gap by implementing new, higher proficiency expectations on the North Dakota State Assessment.

In the past, like many other states, North Dakota has overestimated its students' mastery of knowledge and skills. This practice can impede students' successful transition from high school graduation to college or a meaningful career path and affect North Dakota's ability to compete in a 21st century economy that increasingly demands more skilled and better educated workers.

"For years, students in North Dakota public schools have been passing their state assessments under the assumption that this verified proficiency in these critical subjects. Unfortunately, the proficiency of these tests did not line up with college and career readiness. Students and their families were not truly getting the necessary information to know whether students were on track for a job or college following high school graduation. Expecting more of students will always be harder than expecting less. But we are confident that North Dakota's students can rise to this important challenge,'' said Patricia Levesque, CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education. "We urge North Dakota's leaders to join Superintendent Kirsten Baesler in her effort to set new, higher proficiency standards that are honest with parents and help prepare every student for a college, career and success in the 21st century global economy."

North Dakota's past low proficiency expectations can be quantified by comparing results on state tests with results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Also known as the Nation's Report Card, NAEP is considered the gold standard in measuring academic achievement and progress toward college and career readiness.



Looking at results from 2013, North Dakota's state-administered tests indicated that 74 percent of eighth-grade students were proficient readers. However, NAEP results from that year found only 34 percent of eighth graders had achieved reading proficiency. In other words, 39 percent of North Dakota's eighth graders thought they had the reading skills needed to be on track toward college and career readiness when, in fact, they did not.

The numbers for fourth-grade reading are just as discrepant, with state tests indicating 69 percent of students were proficient in the subject compared to NAEP results of only 34 percent. In math, North Dakota's state-administered tests indicated that 72 percent of eighth-grade students were proficient in math. However, NAEP results from that year found only 41 percent of eighth graders had achieved proficiency in math. The numbers for fourth-grade math are more discrepant, with state tests indicating 80 percent of students were proficient in the subject compared to NAEP results of only 48 percent.

Simply put, in the past, North Dakota has set its proficiency expectation too low. This conveys a false sense of student readiness for college and career to parents, teachers and students. And it comes with consequences:

  • 16 percent of the North Dakota high school graduates that take the United States Army's Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) are found ineligible.
  • According to 2014 ACT results, just 62 percent of North Dakota graduates were prepared to do college-level English and just 41 percent were ready to do college-level math.

Visit WhyProficiencyMatters.com/North-Dakota for more facts, graphics and sharable content. Join the conversation online with the hashtag #ProficiencyMatters.

Share this message on Twitter.

  • North Dakota is overestimating its children's mastery of knowledge and skills; @ExcelinEd says #ProficiencyMatters http://bit.ly/1WZOPUr
  • Low proficiency expectations convey a false sense of readiness to ND families. @ExcelinEd says #ProficiencyMatters http://bit.ly/1WZOPUr

Sources:

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CONTACT: Jennifer Diaz pressshop@excelined.org 850-391-4090

Source:Foundation for Excellencein Education