As the debate over the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) makes its murky way through the political swamp, one thing has become crystal clear: Though NCLB requires that virtually all children become proficient by the year 2014, states disagree on the level of accomplishment in math and reading a proficient child should possess. A few states have been setting world-class standards, but most are well off that mark—in some cases to a laughable degree.

In this report, we use 2007 test-score information to evaluate the rigor of each state’s proficiency standards against the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), an achievement measure that is recognized nationally and has international credibility as well. The analysis extends previous work (see “Johnny Can Read…in Some States,” features, Summer 2005, and “Keeping an Eye on State Standards,” features, Summer 2006) that used 2003 and 2005 test-score data and finds in the new data a noticeable decline, especially at the 8th-grade level. In Figure 1, we rank the rigor of state proficiency standards using the same A to F scale teachers use to grade students. Those that receive an A have the toughest definitions of student proficiency, while those with an F have the least rigorous.

Read the full report online, here.