Has state set bar too high on student proficiency?

For a long time, critics said Mississippi had set its bar for proficiency too low. They pointed to the gap between the relatively large shares of students who got good ratings on the old version of Mississippi’s standardized tests, versus the smaller share who scored well on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. That’s not supposed to be the case any more on the new Mississippi Assessment Program.

“Was the Mississippi Assessment Program rigorous? The answer is yes. They were designed that way,” J.P. Beaudoin, the Mississippi Department of Education’s chief of research and development, told the State Board of Education Thursday.

But Mississippi educators reading a recent study by testing and software company Renaissance Learning asked whether current standards are too hard. The company makes the Star testing software that most Mississippi districts use to track reading performance in young students and predict test outcomes. The company did a study that found that a third-grade student had to read on a level equivalent to grade 4.7 to be considered proficient on the test Mississippi students took in 2015. An advanced student would need to read at a grade equivalent of 8.1.

Clarion Ledger