Press Release: Low Proficiency Expectations Conveying False Sense of Achievement

RELEASE:  Low Proficiency Expectations Conveying False Sense of Achievement
Low proficiency expectations are leaving students unprepared for success in College and the Workforce
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd), released, an interactive website that shows student proficiency levels state-by-state.
“Achieving proficiency ensures every student graduates prepared for success in college, a career or the military,” said Patricia Levesque, CEO for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. “Yet, because of low expectations, all children are not equally prepared for the challenges of college or today’s workforce.  Our education systems must raise proficiency expectations to ensure every child masters essential knowledge and skills.”
Every state draws a line – also called the proficiency cut score – on their annual assessment to determine if a student is proficient in the subject. This proficiency cut score varies state-by-state.
The respected National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is considered the gold standard for measuring student proficiency. The difference between NAEP and individual states’ proficiency expectations are wide and varied. This discrepancy is called a “proficiency gap.”
Many states reported proficiency scores that are 30 percentage points higher than NAEP rates, with some states like Alabama and Idaho seeing a near 60 point variation between the two percentages.
When the proficiency cut score is too low, it conveys a false sense of student achievement to parents, teachers and educators. This false sense of achievement damages students’ long–term chance for success in college or the workforce.
  • $7 billion is spent annually by first-year college students to learn what they should have mastered in high school.
    • Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Improving the Targeting of Treatment: Evidence from College Remediation, 2012
“Across the country, states are in the process of reviewing their proficiency cut scores,” Levesque added. “States must raise their proficiency expectations if they hope to create an education system where every child masters the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in the next grade – and most importantly – after high school.”
To learn more visit Join the conversation online with the hashtag #ProficiencyMatters.

About the Foundation for Excellence in Education

The Foundation for Excellence in Education is igniting a movement of reform, state by state, to transform education for the 21st century economy by working with lawmakers, policymakers, educators and parents to advance education reform across America. Learn more at

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