Students to Take Harder Tests

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Mississippi education officials say they're raising the bar on the state's curriculum and assessment tests to ensure students meet adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

State Education Superintendent Dr. Henry Johnson says the process of implementing a more rigorous testing plan will begin this fall with a new curriculum. In 2006, officials say field tests will be given on the new items.

Johnson says making questions more difficult on the state test also could help improve student scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress standards, which he called the "gold standard" of testing.

On the state tests, Mississippi students score 80 percent proficiency. They score only 20 percent proficiency on NAPE. Johnson said the situation is similar in most states.

He says one of the reasons for the gap is that there are different definitions for proficiency for the two tests.