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Massachusetts’ “Honesty Gap” Holds Steady

Massachusetts Maintains “Most Honest” Status Two Years in a Row; Should Stay the Course

massachusetts_2015_graphMassachusetts again reported student proficiency rates that closely align with those identified by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), according to a newly released follow-up analysis by Achieve, an independent education advocacy organization.

Through the implementation of PARCC assessments in districts across the state, Massachusetts reported proficiency rates within seven percentage points in fourth-grade reading and two percentage points in eighth-grade math. Massachusetts is also recognized as a Top Truth Teller in 2015 for having a proficiency score within five percentage points of NAEP in eighth-grade math.

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.

Of the Massachusetts students that require remediation at four-year colleges about 51.2 percent are projected to go on to earn a bachelor’s degree within six years. Similarly, only 10.3 percent of two-year college students in remediation are projected to complete a degree within three years. Nationally, developmental education costs students and taxpayers about $7 billion each year.

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.

Massachusetts’ Ups and Downs: In 2010, Massachusetts adopted college- and career-ready standards in English language arts and math. Last spring, Massachusetts administered PARCC assessments in districts across the state, which measure students against challenging academic expectations. As a result, Massachusetts’ latest student test results continue to closely reflect proficiency rates identified by NAEP, indicating parents and teachers are getting accurate information about their children’s readiness. Policymakers should continue to prioritize rigorous definitions of proficiency. By doing so, they will provide parents and teachers with honest information about how well prepared their child is to move onto higher level material based on college- and career-ready standards.

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

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