States Not All Lowering AYP Standards
State passing rates on AYP (the percentage of schools that meet state testing requirements and thus federal ones) varies widely, as you can see from the great chart to the right (courtesy of Stateline.org).
But, of course, this doesn't mean that the students in high percentage states are smarter than the rest, or that their schools are better. It probably just means that their tests are easier, or that the cutoff score is lower.
Some states like North Carolina have low AYP pass rates AND their state test cutoffs seem low, according to Pauline Vu's Stateline story. In NC, students had to answer correctly fewer than half the questions to pass [the middle school algebra test]. In some grades, they can flub two-thirds of the questions and still be marked “proficient.”
But not all states have lowered their requirements or rigor, Vu points out. There are lots of different things going on. Check it out: Where All the Children Are Above Average
PS -- Remember just a few years ago when it was hard to get state passing rates for AYP and folks didn't want state-by-state comparisons because they were thought to be misleading? Someone tried to retrieve a report listing state rates, but it lived on.
UPDATE: Sherman Dorn thinks Vu and I don't understand that it's rigor, as well as cutoffs, that affect state pass rates, and that we don't deserve a cookie. But he's wrong. Bad Dorn.