Perspective: WIS editorial on education standards

The new numbers came out recently showing how well South Carolina high school students are meeting federal standards known as adequate yearly progress, or AYP, and those numbers are not good.

For the third consecutive year, not one of the state's 85 school districts met all of their goals under the No Child Left Behind law. And only 50 of the state's 200 high schools made "adequate yearly progress". The goals are designed to make sure that every student in America masters grade-level standards by 2014.

But state education leaders say, "Hold on a minute. Those numbers are comparing apples to oranges." Here's why. Each state sets its own standards for proficiency. South Carolina adopted its standards *before* No Child Left Behind. And the New York Times says they "may be the nation's most rigorous tests." But some states, such as Mississippi, set much lower standards. So, few schools in Mississippi miss their targets.

A state education department spokesman says South Carolina students actually score higher than students in Mississippi on an apples-to-apples comparison test. Congress needs to change No Child Left Behind, so that states are compared fairly, and parents and taxpayers can know how our state's schools are really doing.

That's my perspective. I'd like to hear yours.