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Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - 1:02pm

Study Finds Low Test Standards

A new report released Wednesday by the National Center for Educational Statistics says Georgia’s state eighth grade reading exam is one of the least rigorous in the country when compared to a well-regarded federal exam.

The report compared 2009 state test standards to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, exam. It found that standards for reading and math vary widely among states. And Georgia’s eighth grade reading standards were the second lowest in the country.

That means that many Georgia eighth graders who pass the reading CRCT would fail the NAEP exam. And a Georgia eighth grader found proficient in reading here could move to almost any other state and fail state reading tests there as well.

Joanne Weiss, chief of staff to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, said that the federal No Child Left Behind law has inadvertently driven states to lower their standards.

"Having low expectations systemically for children across an entire state does have very real consequences," Weiss said.

Weiss said the wide discrepancy in state standards obscures what students actually know –- or don’t know. "That’s actually lying to parents, it’s lying to children, it’s lying to teachers and principals about the work they’re doing," she said.

Weiss said that setting a common bar nationwide will help students stay competitive. Georgia is in the process of introducing new content standards shared with 43 other states. It’s also developing new tests, which many experts expect will help raise the bar.

The report also ranked Georgia’s fourth grade reading and eighth grade math standards lower than other states, but cautioned those findings might not be reliable without more investigation.