The Changing Definition Of Proficient

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The "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001 requires that states set definitions of student proficiency in reading and mathematics achievement. Under the law, states must begin assessing student performance in those subjects in grades 3- 8 and once in high school by the end of the 2005-06 school year. And it sets a goal of having all students score at the proficient level by the end of the 2013-14 school year.

While many states are still deciding how to define "proficiency" under the federal law, some have already changed their definitions for purposes of that law.

For instance:

  • Louisiana will consider students proficient if they score at the state's "basic" achievement level. To avoid confusion, the state changed the label of its proficient category to "mastery."
  • Colorado students who rank in the "partially proficient" category on state assessments will be considered proficient under the federal law.
  • Connecticut will set a new performance level to comply with the federal law. But that achievement level will be lower than what the state expects for student performance in its accountability system.

Vol. 22, Issue 6, Page 25

Published in Print: October 9, 2002, as The Changing Definition Of Proficient
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