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Arkansas Closes Proficiency Gap, Raises Expectations for Students

• ExcelinEd

The Arkansas State Board of Education recently accepted rigorous new performance level cut scores for the test given to students last spring. The vote signals the desire of Arkansas leaders to continue raising the rigor for students and ensure they have demonstrated a thorough understanding of grade-level content and are on track to be ready for college-level coursework or the workforce.

Alex Kelly, Vice President of Advocacy for the Foundation for Excellence in Education, lauded the state for their efforts. “Parents want a clear, accurate picture of how their child is doing in school and if he or she is ready for the next grade, college and career. Setting rigorous expectations ensures that parents and students get an honest report. We commend Governor Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas Commissioner of Education Johnny Key, the State Board of Education and all of Arkansas’ education leaders for embracing higher expectations in these critical subjects.”

Arkansas’ new proficiency expectations are aligned with student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is considered the gold standard for measuring student proficiency. The difference between NAEP and individual states’ proficiency expectations are wide and varied. This discrepancy is called a “proficiency gap.”

Previously, Arkansas had low proficiency expectations resulting in proficiency gaps ranging from 38 percentage points to over 50 percentage points. Now, with more rigorous expectations, the proficiency gap is closed in math and reading.

“Now, parents, educators, policymakers and the public in the state have the accurate information they need to make important decisions about how to improve instruction and learning for their students,” Kelly said.

Requiring more of students will always be harder than requiring less. But Arkansas education officials have demonstrated a strong commitment to raising their proficiency expectations and creating an education system where every child masters the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful.

Visit ExcelinEd’s website for more facts, graphics and sharable content. Join the conversation online with the hashtag #ProficiencyMatters.

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