PRESS RELEASE: New Data Analysis Exposes “Honesty Gap” in Student Proficiency

CONTACT: Blair Mann
(571) 458-7925;

Parents Deserve More Accurate Information

(Washington D.C.) – Today, the nationally recognized education reform organization, Achieve, released a new analysis of student proficiency scores as reported by individual states as compared to those scores furnished by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), considered the “gold standard” in student assessments. The analysis reveals that many states continue to mislead the public on whether students are proficient in the most basic reading and math skills, creating an “Honesty Gap” between what parents are told and how students are actually performing.

“The ‘Honesty Gap’ is the result of a lack of political courage from some policymakers who are afraid to come clean to parents about the fact that our students are not prepared for college or the workforce,” said Karen Nussle, executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success.

“The good news is that many states are and have been working to address this gap by adopting higher, comparable standards and implementing high quality tests to measure student progress and give parents real information. Unfortunately, there are others that want to go backwards and keep us mediocre at best. Parents should demand education policies and reforms that bring transparency, truth-telling and results to K-12 public education.”

Many states will report results from the new tests in the fall.

While more than half of all states demonstrated a 30 percentage point or more differential between their reported proficiency rates and NAEP, many have already taken corrective action. For example, in 2010, New York’s then Deputy Education Commissioner John King admitted, “It actually seems that the problem of this gap – what we call proficient and what NAEP calls proficient – has been getting worse.” That year, the state adopted the new, stronger Common Core education standards and aligned exams. Today, New York boasts proficiency requirements that are more rigorous than NAEP, ensuring if students pass state tests they are fully ready for their next step to college or career.

Several states have led similar efforts to deliver more accurate proficiency results, including Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Each has adopted assessments designed to test to higher content; in each, discrepancies between state and NAEP scores have narrowed and are now in the bottom quartile of the country.

UPDATE: Listen to the first part of the national press call about the Honesty Gap:

UPDATE 2: Listen to the second part of the national press call about the Honesty Gap:

About the Collaborative for Student Success:

The Collaborative for Student Success is a grant-making initiative created with the pooled resources of a diverse group of regional and national education foundations deeply committed to improving public education.

The members of the Collaborative share the belief that the successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards is an important next step in ensuring that all students are prepared to succeed at college level work. The mission of the Collaborative is to support the state-led efforts of State Education Agencies and local education organizations responsible for educating and informing all stakeholders — parents, students, teachers and community leaders — about the new state standards and assessments.