The State of Education

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The NY Times points to Tennessee as exhibit A in a front page story Saturday about states where public school students show high levels of proficiency on state tests (the TCAPs here) but far lower proficiency on the national NAEP test used to benchmark state performance. As reported in a Scene piece earlier this month, state and local education officials offer a number of fanciful theories on why the gap exists and how it might be seen as something other than evidence that states are using weak standards to game federal No-Child-Left-Behind progress requirements. NCLB compels states to participate in NAEP, but invites the discrepancy by letting each state create its own standards and tests for tracking NCLB performance. Showing off her extra coursework in understatement at PR school, Tennessee Department of Education spokeswomen Kim Karesh is quoted in today's Times story: "Now whether Tennessee's test is stringent enough is something that we're reviewing constantly. Nobody here would say we have a perfect test."

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