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Ohio Falls Short of Closing the “Honesty Gap”

State Earns “Honesty Challenged” Status for Continuing to Inflate Proficiency Rates, Giving Parents and Teachers an Inaccurate Measure of Student Readiness

ohio_2015_graphOhio continued to report student proficiency rates significantly above those found by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), according to a newly released follow-up analysis by Achieve, an independent education advocacy organization.

By setting proficiency benchmarks lower to include students who were less-than-proficient, Ohio maintained significant discrepancies between state-reported and NAEP proficiency rates. Ohio receives the “Honesty Challenged” designation for reporting state proficiency rates that exceed NAEP by 34 percentage points in fourth-grade reading and 18 percentage points 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 Ohio students that require remediation at four-year colleges, only 25 percent earn a bachelor’s degree within six years. Similarly, only 6.4 percent of students in remediation at two-year colleges complete a degree within three years. In 2010, remedial education in cost Ohio about $147 million.4

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.

Ohio’s Ups and Downs: In 2010, Ohio adopted college- and career-ready standards in English language arts and math. This spring, Ohio administered PARCC assessments, which measure students against challenging academic expectations. In September, ahead of releasing scores from those exams, state officials voted to adopt proficiency targets that were less rigorous than those recommended by PARCC. As a result, Ohio continues to report proficiency rates well in excess of those recognized by NAEP, reinforcing the Honesty Gap. While states officials should be applauded for adopting rigorous academic expectations, policymakers should reconsider their decision to abandon the PARCC assessment and the state’s proficiency definition to ensure parents and teachers receive accurate information about their students’ readiness.

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

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