New analysis reveals “Honesty Gap” in Arizona proficiency rates
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New analysis reveals “Honesty Gap” in Arizona proficiency rates

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  • Christie Silverstein/Expect More Arizona


An analysis of student proficiency scores was released today that shows a significant gap in AIMS proficiency rates (Arizona’s former assessment) and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the “gold standard” of student assessments.

Results of the analysis, conducted by Achieve, show a 48-point discrepancy between state-reported proficiency scores from Arizona’s AIMS test and NAEP in fourth-grade reading, and a 28-point discrepancy in eighth-grade math.

New analysis reveals “Honesty Gap” in Arizona proficiency rates TeacherWithStudentsHP“The data reported in this study is not new, but illustrates that Arizona – like most states – set the bar too low and used a definition of student proficiency that painted a picture for parents that was too rosy,” said Pearl Chang Esau, president and CEO of Expect More Arizona. “The good news is Arizona has already begun to implement changes to raise expectations and give parents more accurate information about their child’s academic performance.”

The Arizona State Board of Education adopted higher academic standards in math and English in 2010 that have been implemented in classrooms since 2011.

Additionally, Arizona schools began administering the AzMERIT test this spring, which is the new statewide assessment that students in grades 3-11 take in reading,
writing and math.

“AzMERIT results are expected to be similar to NAEP and will set a more realistic benchmark for student performance. The results should provide more accurate information to parents and teachers to know if our students are prepared for college, career and life,” said Chang Esau.

Results from this year’s AzMERIT test are expected to be released this fall, with future test results available before the end of each school year.

“One of the most important reasons I have embraced the new test as a parent is because it will help me know if my children are on track to succeed and will give my children’s teachers the information they need to improve their academic achievement,” said Cindy Bitcon, mother of two boys who attend Scottsdale Unified
School District.

Achieve’s data shows that the gap between the AIMS and NAEP scores is not just a concern in Arizona: more than half of the states report a difference of 30 percentage points between their own results and those provided by NAEP. However, several states – including Alabama, Kentucky, New York, and Tennessee – have dramatically narrowed the gap and provide a path for others to do the same. Achieve’s full analysis can be found at

About Expect More Arizona
Expect More Arizona is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education advocacy organization working to build a movement of Arizonans in support of world-class education for all children. For more information about Expect More Arizona, visit