These Action Briefs for school leaders are a starting point, designed to increase awareness of the standards, create a sense of urgency around their implementation, and provide these stakeholders — who are faced with dramatically increased expectations in the context of fewer resources — with a deeper understanding of the standards and their role in implementing the standards. Achieve, in partnership with College Summit, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, released this with support from MetLife Foundation.
A new survey conducted for Achieve shows that most college instructors and employers believe students come to campus and the workplace with at least some gaps in preparation.
Mel Riddile's insight:
More than three-quarters all all college instructors polled said they were dissatisfied with their students' abilities in critical thinking, comprehension of complicated materials, work and study habits, writing, written communication, and problem solving. This reflects a level of dissatisfaction that is 10 percentage points higher than when instructors were pollled by Achieve in 2004.
As many educators predicted, scores on the state's standardized tests plummeted this year, the first time the exams were aligned with the rigorous Pennsylvania Core Standards.
Pennsylvania Test Scores Drop In First Year Implementing New Standards.
The Allentown (PA) Morning Call (7/15, Palochko) reported Pennsylvania test scores “plummeted this year, the first time the exams were aligned with the rigorous Pennsylvania Core Standards.” Many educators predicted the lower scores, especially in math, which fell by 34%.
Ohio's new math and English tests will take a combined six hours next year, down from the 10 or more spent on the Common Core exams from PARCC this past school year.
Ohio To Limit Common Core Tests To Three Hours Per Subject.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer (7/13) reports that Ohio Department of Education testing director Jim Wright told the state Board of Education this week that his department is working with the American Institutes for Research on limiting next year’s Common Core tests to three hours per subject per year. The article contrasts this with the “10 to 11 hours students spent on the PARCC Common Core tests this just-finished school year.”
"It is important to consider that unless assessments are independently verified to adhere to basic standards of test development regarding validity, reliability, security, accessibility, and fairness in administration, the resulting scores will be meaningless and should not be used to make claims nor conclusions of student learning, progress, aptitude, nor readiness for college or career.
Please consider the following questions and evidence as you determine public communication and next steps regarding test score data provided by the SmarterBalanced Assessment Consortium.
Q1: How is standardization to be assumed when students are taking tests on different technological tools with vastly varying screen interfaces? Depending on the technology used, (desktops, laptops, chromebooks, and/or ipads), students would need different skills in typing, touch screen navigation, and familiarity with the tool."
Idaho Releases First Results From Common Core Testing.
The Idaho Statesman (7/1) reports that for years after adopting the Common Core standards, the Idaho Department of Education is releasing the first set of test results from aligned exams. The piece notes that “only half of students or less in grades three through eight and 10th grade are proficient in math and English.” Noting that the state is part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, the article reports that the exams have been “criticized by opponents of Common Core.”
The AP (7/2, Kruesi) reports that overall proficiency levels in the state were higher than “national benchmarks,” adding that “Idaho students exceeded projected proficiency levels in all grades for English language arts, with high school grades scoring much higher in the top two advance levels.”
Mel Riddile's insight:
A comprehensive statewide literacy initiative, principal training, and ten years of experience with online testing contributed to the state's better than expected results.
New York and Kentucky, which gave common-core tests before other states did—and navigated the public reaction—share their experiences as dozens of other states get ready to do the same.
Even without the alignment issue, there's the trendline issue: most states gave new tests this year, so that makes year-to-year comparisons impossible. Unavoidably, people will want to make year-to-year comparisons. They'll yearn to make year-to-year comparisons. And while those comparisons might tell you something about the relative rigor of each test, they won't tell you much about students' progress over time.
Common Core Testing Fails Due To Software Problems.
The Reno (NV) Gazette-Journal (6/18, Milliard) reports that on Thursday two-thirds of Nevada students were unable to take Nevada’s first online standardized exams due to software problems. Because “Federal law mandates that public schools annually test at least 95 percent of students in grades three through eight,” the article explains that this failure put the state’s federal funding in jeopardy. However, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dale Erquiaga asserted that penalties were unlikely.
The Las Vegas (NV) Sun (6/18, Whitaker) calls the Standardized Common Core testing in Nevada a “complete disaster,” pointing to the failure of the servers of Measured Progress, the state-contracted testing company. The Sun similarly cites Erquiaga as asserting that penalties are inappropriate as “Nevada schools and educators are not at fault,” and that he may take legal action against Measured Progress.
A new study found that in two-year colleges, only 4 percent of instructors found students "most generally able to do what is expected." The number was slightly higher in four-year schools: 12 percent. The rest reported that students had arrived to higher ed with at least some gaps in preparation.
A pro-Common Core coalition of business groups has a series of recommendations for the state as it soldiers on with the standards, including the use of an independent review to gauge their effectiv...
Mel Riddile's insight:
“The educators and parents in this report are sending a clear message – higher standards are working in their classrooms and for their children,” said Steve Sigmund, High Achievement’s executive director. “Despite cynical voices whose solution is to ‘opt out,’ we know the standards and assessments are needed, and there are real improvements that will help make them more effective for millions of kids. We must continue moving forward to ensure that New York’s students are ready for college and 21st century careers.”
The New Hampshire-based company Measured Progress, which developed online Common Core tests used in Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota, has acknowledged a major problem with the test’s rollout.Technical malfunctions, such as servers crashing during testing, resulted in only 37 percent of Nevada students being able to take their exams. Montana and North Dakota only managed to test 76 percent and 84 percent of students online, respectively.Though Measured Progress admits the online test completion
Mel Riddile's insight:
Company Admits Problems With Online Common Core Test Rollout.
The New Hampshire Union Leader (7/1) website carries a piece from the Spectator saying that Measured Progress, “which developed online Common Core tests used in Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota, has acknowledged a major problem with the test’s rollout.” The New Hampshire-based company admitted “the online test completion rate in all three states failed to meet the federal mandate of at least 95 percent of 3rd through 8th graders,” but denied breach of contract.
Gov. Bruce Rauner's new superintendent of education on Tuesday stepped outside the GOP box on Illinois' new standardized test.
Illinois Education Chief: PARCC Currently Best Option.
The Bloomington (IL) Pantagraph (6/25) reports that Illinois education chief Tony Smith “stepped outside the GOP box” saying that the state’s PARCC test, which has sparked controversy in the state, could stand some improvement but is the best option currently on the table. The piece quotes Smith saying, “This is the best current opportunity to create a high-quality assessment.” Smith “made it clear during a stop in Bloomington to address educators that he wants to improve PARCC rather than kill it and bring back the elementary Illinois Standard Achievement Test and high school Prairie State Achievement Exam, as opponents have requested.”
Testing groups point to strict training and criteria for Common Core grading, but the use of temps for increasingly complex tests is being questioned.
Pearson, which operates 21 scoring centers around the country, hired 14,500 temporary scorers throughout the scoring season, which began in April and will continue through July. About three-quarters of the scorers work from home. Pearson recruited them through its own website, personal referrals, job fairs, Internet job search engines, local newspaper classified ads and even Craigslist and Facebook. About half of those who go through training do not ultimately get the job.
But don’t get too excited. It’s the same as the old one.
Professor Says Common Core Math Standards Are Staying In Place.
Jordan Ellenberg, professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, writes in the New York Times (6/16, Subscription Publication), that despite popular objections and moves by several governors and state legislators against Common Core, what they have replaced it with is “the same thing in a new package.” The states also “aren’t dumping high-stakes testing; they’re just switching to new tests.” That’s because of “federal funding requirements,” and state laws “long predating the Common Core.” He also points out that Common Core math standards are “the way math was taught before,” so while South Carolina’s new state standards “are 92 percent aligned with the Common Core,” its previous standards were “97 percent aligned” with the Common Core that replaced them.
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