Tennessee’s “Honesty Gap” Remains
Tennessee Takes Modest Steps to More Accurately Report Student Readiness
Tennessee began closing discrepancies between state-reported student proficiency rates and those found by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), but significant disparities remain, according to a newly released follow-up analysis by Achieve, an independent education advocacy organization.
Through the implementation of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment (TCAP), Tennessee narrowed gaps between state-reported and NAEP proficiency rates by three percentage points in fourth-grade reading but increased discrepancies by six percentage points in eighth-grade math this year.
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 Tennessee students enrolled in four-year colleges that require remediation, only 44.4 percent complete a bachelor’s degree within six years. Similarly, only 12.6 percent of students enrolled in community college that require remediation obtain a degree within three years. 4 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.
Tennessee’s Ups and Downs: In 2010, Tennessee adopted college- and career-ready standards in English language arts and math. Last spring, Tennessee administered the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment. The results indicate that significant gaps still remain. Policymakers should take steps to close the Honesty Gap and tighten the state’s definition 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?