In the conversation of how to improve our education system we often hear comparisons between the different States. In economics we have a saying called, ceteris paribus, all things being constant. For the sake of simplicity let’s use ceteris paribus with education and briefly talk about the comparison of State’s standards.
The No Child Left Behind Act, said individual states had to test for basic skills. So the individual states came up with individual tests. Here in Arizona we call ours AIMS, California calls theirs STAR , Nevada NPEP , and so on. None of these tests are the same. Tests in some states turned out to be easier than in other states. So a more challenging test may result in lower scores and a less challenging test result in higher scores.
This testing system was so flawed that a system to test the tests was created in order to measure the difficulty of one test over the other.
So when we compare Arizona’s reading, writing, and math scores to other state’s we need to be aware of what exactly we’re comparing and where we’re getting those numbers.