Wisconsin’s “Honesty Gap” Remains
Yet, Following Implementation of New Assessments, Wisconsin More Accurately Reports Student Readiness in Eighth-Grade Math
Wisconsin began closing discrepancies between state-reported student proficiency rates and those found by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in eighth-grade math, but actually increased disparities in fourth-grade reading, according to a newly released follow-up analysis by Achieve, an independent education advocacy organization.
Wisconsin reported state proficiency rates 13 percentage points higher than NAEP in fourth-grade reading. However, Wisconsin did not administer portions of the Smarter Balanced assessment in fourth-grade reading, potentially elevating their student proficiency rates. Wisconsin 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.
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. Based on 2013 data, 28.4 percent of Wisconsin students entering four-year colleges and 38.2 percent of first-time students entering community colleges require one or more remedial classes before they can begin taking credit-bearing coursework.
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.
Wisconsin’s Ups and Downs: Last spring, Wisconsin administered Smarter Balanced Assessments. While the results more closely align with NAEP in eighth-grade math, discrepancies in fourth-grade reading actually increased, indicating there is still further to go to provide parents and teachers with accurate information about their children’s readiness. Policymakers should continue to 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?