This report uses international benchmarking to examine the expectations gap between what students are expected to learn in some states versus other states. The report assumes that each state’s expectations are embodied in the stringency of the performance standards it uses on its own state accountability tests. The overall finding in the study is that the differences in the stringency of the performance standards used across the states are significant; yet, few policymakers are aware of it. The report recommends reengineering the current standard-setting paradigm used by the states in order to reduce the expectations gap. Rather than deriving performance standards exclusively from internal state content considerations, the report recommends a new method for setting standards that is influenced more by empirical data. See also http://www.air.org/resource/international-benchmarking-state-education-performance-standards.
This report builds on the negative correlation between apparent student proficiency and rigor of performance standards to explain discrepancies and thus recommends using international benchmarks, based on empirical results. The report strongly argues that higher standards or expectations lead to higher student achievement and would be useful for discussion and consideration at state education agency (SEA) and local education agency (LEA) levels. The report provides strategic tables and data to support its points. Overall, the report contributes significantly to the measurement and policy field and may be relevant to educators and stakeholders as states redesign accountability systems based on common standards.