On Feb 22, CNSnews.com proclaimed that "Two-Thirds of Wisconsin Public-School 8th Graders Can’t Read Proficiently": They stated that only 32% of Wisconsin eighth graders scored at the "proficient" level or above on the 2009 NAEP.
Actually, the percentage is 34%. And this figure is not shockingly low.
Gerald Bracey published several penetrating critiques of the NAEP performance levels (see, for example, his book Reading Educational Research: How to Avoid Getting Statistically Snookered) pointing out that NAEP's “proficient” level is set very high, and that other countries that consistently rank near the top of the world in reading would not do well on our NAEP: For example, only one-third of Swedish children would be considered “proficient” on the NAEP, nearly the identical percentage of Wisconsin's fourth (33%) and eighth (34%) graders reaching or exceeding the proficiency level ).
The suspicion is that the definition of “proficient” is deliberately set too high, in order to create the illusion that there is, in fact, a crisis in American education, an application of what Naomi Klein has called the “Shock Doctrine,” the deliberate creation of a crisis in order to create an environment to institute policies that would be normally unacceptable.
Buried deep in the CNS report is the fact that Wisconsin's children did slightly better than the national average.