More Ga. Students Reading on Grade Level– But Not Because of Learning

Last week the State Board of Education adopted new benchmark scores that tell students, parents and teachers if third graders are proficient in reading and ready to move to fourth grade. The problem with those scores? The board chose a low standard. In real numbers; the higher standard under consideration would tell 24,000 third graders they aren’t ready for fourth grade. Under the new scores— magically!– they are.

Why does this matter? Imagine if your doctor only had to get 30 percent correct on his or her medical boards. With that 30 percent score they are considered proficient and receive their medical license. Would you have confidence in their ability to care for your family?

As a parent, I want to know my child’s doctor is competent. As a parent, former legislator and superintendent, I want Georgia students, parents and teachers to know the truth about a student’s ability to read. “‘Truthful”’ reading scores are good predictors for future success. From infancy to fourth grade, students are learning to read. In the years after that they are reading to learn.

NAEP scores, known as the “nation’s report card,” have provided information about state-level student achievement since 1969. According to the 2022 NAEP, only 32 percent of Georgia’s fourth graders are proficient or better in reading. Read that sentence again.

In case you’re wanting to blame the pandemic, proficiency was 32 percent in 2019.

If our goal is for Georgia students to be literate and good citizens and to compete in labor markets, lowering our standards and misleading them about their performance won’t get them there.

Click this link to read the full article written by Alisha on James Magazine Online.