Education Next has published their findings on state tests. The results are in and we're not as good as we think we are.
Because there is such a wide disparity between what is proficient in one state vs. another they decided to do some comparing. Their findings can be found in their Summer 2005 edition titled "Johnny Can't Read...In Some States".
"Because each state selects its own testing system and sets its own passing scores, there is no direct way to compare the proficiency levels established by one state against the others. However, NCLB does require each state to administer the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to a sample of students in 4th and 8th grade in reading and in mathematics. Comparing the percentage of students achieving proficiency on state tests with the percentage achieving proficiency on the NAEP suggests how demanding each state’s standards are.Tennessee is listed dead last. Well, 10 0ther states and DC may actually be last, but since they don't test their children, yet, we can't know for sure.
For instance, if only 50 percent of a state’s 4th graders are proficient by the nationally determined NAEP standard, but the state claims proficiency for 80 percent, then the state should be given an F for its failure to establish high expectations for its students. But if a state with an equivalent score on the NAEP says only 45 percent are proficient, then it should be given an A for having standards that exceed even those of the NAEP."