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Study: Ohio’s Student Proficiency Standards Are Too Low

A classroom at Cleveland's John Hay High School.
Ashton Marra
A classroom at Cleveland's John Hay High School.

A new Stanford University analysis of state and national test scores shows more Ohio students pass state exams than similar nationwide tests, which researchers say means the state’s proficiency standards are too low.

The analysis by Stanford’s Hoover Institution looks at NAEP scores, or the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

The NAEP test is given to a nationally representative sample of fourth and eighth graders and is the only exam that allows the country to compare the academic progress of students across states.

The analysis focuses on how well students perform on state standardized tests compared to the academic performance goals set out by each state.

“This is not information about how well kids are doing in school,” Paul Peterson, the study’s author, explained. “This is only a measure of how high the bar has been set for evaluating students.”

According to the analysis, about 20 percent more Ohio fourth and eighth graders are scoring proficient, or receive passing grades, on state standardized tests than on the national test.

Because of that difference, Ohio is ranked 45th out of the 50 states and D.C. by the report for the level of difficulty represented by those scoring standards, receiving an overall grade of C-plus.

Peterson said that means Ohio has set its proficiency standards too low, and students are given scores of proficient on state exams that do not show the same academic skill as measured on the national test.

Ashton Marra covers the Capitol for West Virginia Public Radio and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning, the station’s daily radio news program. Ashton can also be heard Sunday evenings as she brings you state headlines during NPR’s weekend edition of All Things Considered. She joined the news team in October of 2012.