The Proficiency Illusion
At the heart of the No Child Left Behind Act is a call for all students to be proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014. However, the law allows each state to define "proficiency" in its own way and to design its own tests to gauge math and reading proficiency. The Proficiency Illusion (238 pages, PDF), a report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, uses a common benchmark to measure proficiency scores in twenty-six states. Funded in part by the Joyce Foundation, the report finds that states are aiming low when it comes to their expectations for younger children, and that some states with high standards saw their expectations drop toward the middle of the pack.