We have two ways of judging how Arizona students compare nationally. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exams have consistently found Arizona students below the national average (29 times since 1992). The states recently adopted Terra Nova exam, however, finds us well above the national average.
Superintendent Tom Horne recently wrote a letter to the Arizona Daily Star dismissing NAEP and congratulating Arizona's public schools for being eight percent above the national average, according to Terra Nova.
Mr. Hornes skepticism of NAEP certainly stands out. Recently, the publishers of Education Week surveyed a host of education insiders, analyzed citations in academic journals, and tallied media hits to rank the most influential educational studies and information sources of the last decade. NAEP came in first place in both categories by a wide margin, scoring 100 on a 100 point scale.
On NAEP's fourth grade reading exam, the highest performing state (Massachusetts) does not score eight percent above the national average. Nor does the lowest performing state (Mississippi) score eight percent below the national average.
If we were truly eight percent above the national average, we wouldn't have to strive for top tier status. Wed be number one. As it is, we are in danger of being overtaken by Mississippi.
-Education Week: Influence: A Study of the Factors Shaping Education Policy (Free Registration Required)
-Education Next: The Key to Research Influence
-Arizona Daily Star: Can't compare states with NAEP
-U.S. Department of Education: NAEP Overview