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Colorado Makes Significant Progress Closing the “Honesty Gap”

Following Implementation of New Assessments, Colorado More Accurately Reports Student Readiness

colorado_2015_graphColorado closed discrepancies between state-reported student proficiency rates and those found by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in fourth-grade reading and actually achieved proficiency benchmarks more rigorous than NAEP in eighth-grade math, according to a newly released follow-up analysis by Achieve, an independent education advocacy organization.

Through the implementation of PARCC assessments, Colorado narrowed gaps between state-reported and NAEP proficiency rates by 23 percentage points in fourth-grade reading and 8 percentage points in eighth-grade math. Colorado is also recognized as a Top Truth Teller in 2015 for having a proficiency score within five percentage points of NAEP in fourth-grade reading.

Click here to view the state’s previous results.

A Look Back: Last May, Achieve released an analysis that identified discrepancies in student proficiency rates reported by state tests and those found on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as “the Nation’s Report Card.” The analysis – deemed the “Honesty Gap” – found more than half of all states demonstrated a 30 percentage point or more differential between proficiency rates calculated by state tests and NAEP. That meant states were not being straightforward with parents and educators about students’ preparedness for high levels of learning, and ultimately for college and careers—often with serious consequences. In Colorado, remedial coursework costs the state and students about $56.1 million annually.5

Prioritizing Accurate Information and Transparency: For the first time this year, most states administered tests aligned to rigorous academic expectations. As a result, most began reporting proficiency results that more closely reflect the rates identified by NAEP. The Collaborative for Student Success identified Massachusetts, New York, and Utah as “Most Honest” for significantly closing the Honesty Gap and reporting proficiency rates nearly identical to or even more rigorous than NAEP.

Additionally, 26 states are recognized as “Significantly Improved” for closing their Honesty Gaps by at least 10 percentage points in either fourth-grade reading or eighth-grade math. Twenty-four states, including Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Georgia, Idaho,  Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin, earned the status of “Top Truth Teller in 2015” for having Honesty Gaps of fewer than 5 percentage points in one or both subjects.

Colorado’s Gains: In 2010, Colorado adopted college- and career-ready standards in English language arts and math. Last spring, Colorado administered PARCC assessments, which measure students against challenging academic expectations. As a result, Colorado’s latest student test results more closely reflect proficiency rates identified by NAEP, indicating parents and teachers are now getting more accurate information about their children’s readiness. In eighth-grade math, Colorado’s proficiency benchmarks are now actually more rigorous than NAEP, better ensuring that when met students are fully prepared for higher level material.

For more information read more: What is the Honesty Gap?

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