(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Taking up where Jason left off the topic of USDoE labeling Delaware’s ESSA goal to cut the number of low-performing students as “not ambitious” I decided to look at NAEP gains in Arizona. You may or may not have heard, but Arizona students have been leading the nation in NAEP gains in recent years basically regardless of how you measure gains. Arizona was the only state that saw a statistically significant gains on all six NAEP exams for the entire period we can track all of them (2009-2015). When you subtract declines from gains the average state landed at +1. Measured on a cohort basis, Arizona students lead in gains between 4th grade in 2009 and 8th grade in 2013, and lo and behold they did it again between 2011 and 2015.
Arizona students did not however come remotely close to reducing the percentage of students scoring “Below Basic” by half on any of the NAEP exams on a statewide basis.
Not.even.close. You can track NAEP scores for Arizona’s super-high flying (on average) charter sector from 2005 to 2015, and even they don’t show that kind of progress and those folks moved a majority-minority student body into New England NAEP score range on all six tests.
The ESSA statute calls for “ambitious” rather than “completely fantastic” goals.