Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne appeared on Sunday Square Off this week to reassure viewers, despite what they may have heard, that Arizona students score above the national average on tests. Well likely hear the same message when Mr. Horne delivers his State of Education speech later today.
In other words, dont worry, be happy!
Mr. Horne based this claim on results of the Terra Nova exam, which the state embedded into the AIMS test. Normally, the Terra Nova is a fine exam, but the states administration of it lacks the credibility of the independent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
NAEP has been given to representative samples of students in states for decades so it is easy to compare students across state lines. How does Arizonas NAEP performance compare to, say, Texas? Texas makes a good comparison point because it spends about the same amount of money per pupil and both public school systems are becoming majority minority. Texas, in fact, is far ahead of Arizona in this regard.
What happens when you compare fourth-grade NAEP reading scores in Arizona and Texas? Thirty-seven percent more Arizona Hispanics score below basic than Texas Hispanic students in Texas. Similar comparisons can be made across all ethnic groups, 31 percent more Arizona African Americans, 30 percent more Arizona Anglos, and 25 percent more Arizona Asians score below basic than their Texas counterparts.
Ill stop worrying when Arizona's students start reading.