The Bigotry of Low Expectations Is Getting More Bigoted

Setting the bar for low expectations. Yup, that’s Virginia in the red circle. Virginia’s passing grade for 4th grade Standards of Learning exams is below what the NAEP considers “basic,” which is lower than proficient.

by James A. Bacon

Virginia’s standardized tests used to measure reading and math proficiency for 4th graders set the lowest passing score in the country in 2019 — literally the lowest among the 50 states — according to a National Assessment of Educational Progress report. Virginia’s reading standards were so low that they fell below what NAEP considered “basic.”

NAEP conducts what it calls a “mapping study” that compares the proficiency standards set by the states for their students. Because standards vary across states, they cannot be compared directly. So, NAEP compares state standards to its standard, which it uses for national tests every two years.

The mapping study, released June 1, 2021, examined the reading and math standards for tests administered in 2019. Virginia’s reading standards that year reflected decisions made by the Virginia Board of Education (SBOE) in 2013. In 2020 the SBOE watered down Virginia’s English reading test standards even more, requiring students to answer even fewer questions correctly to be considered “proficient.” Unless other states lower their standards, Virginia could fall even further behind its peers.

And, for your viewing pleasure, here is how Virginia’s math standards stack up:

Barely adequate

Who will suffer the most from the steady erosion of Virginia’s educational standards? Poor minorities, of course.

You cannot improve “equity” by lowering standards. All you can do is cover up your failures.