One disparity critics have noted in the report is that high-performing states, such as Louisiana and Florida, don't always have the highest student performance on tests like the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the Nation's Report Card.
In 2013, for example, 26 percent and 23 percent of Louisiana's fourth-graders performed at proficient and advanced levels in math and reading, respectively. Meanwhile, in the lowest-ranking state, North Dakota, 48 percent and 34 percent of fourth-graders scored at proficient and advanced levels in those subjects.
But Eric Lerum, vice president of national policy at StudentsFirst, said that's not surprising. "For the states that have been making the most recent changes, they're probably doing that because they recognize they need to increase student achievement," Lerum said in a call with reporters. "I think over the next couple of years we'll start to see that move, but it's probably too early to see that this year."