The Fordham study measured test scores of 36 elementary and middle schools against accountability rules in 28 states.
It found the schools failed to meet yearly progress goals in states with more rigorous standards, such as Massachusetts. But they met yearly progress goals in states with lower standards, such as Arizona and Wisconsin.
The study looks at the variability of standards across by comparing test scores. But who is looking at the match between these assessments and the standards? Why aren't they using something like NAEP to compare states?
I think that the underlying assumption here is that having higher standards is going to lead to higher achievement. This simply places too much pressure on standards (enforced via tests) to fix all of our educational woes. While it is obvious that there are differences in state standards, it is not obvious whether or not having higher standards will have an effect on achievement.
This really represents the slippery slope we face in education talk when we compartmentalize pieces of the puzzle. Teachers, administrations, school structures, curriculum, assessments, and parents are all included in this conversation, but are forgone conclusions in the interpretation of the study.