Departing Students Are Victims Of High-Stakes Testing – Forbes Education

By Nick Morrison

Schools have been accused of pushing out students with low levels of achievement, in a practice where the students become the victims of a high-stakes testing regime.

School inspectors have identified 19,000 students who left their publicly-funded school shortly before crucial public examinations.

And while around half of those moved to another state-funded school, around half did not, and simply vanished from school registers.

Some may have moved into fee-paying schools, but with no information on their destination, the likelihood is that many will have effectively left education altogether.

Source: Departing Students Are Victims Of High-Stakes Testing

California’s K–12 Test Scores: What Can the Available Data Tell Us? – Public Policy Institute of California

By Paul Warren

California’s K–12 system relies on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) English and mathematics tests to measure student academic progress and assess school and district performance. This report uses publicly available data to explore trends in student performance during the first three years this test has been in place. Key findings include:

  • In the 2016–17 school year, about 45 percent of 3rd grade students performed at proficient levels both in mathematics and English. In English, the proportion of students meeting proficiency standards rises after 3rd grade. By 11th grade, about 60 percent of students tested as proficient. By contrast, in mathematics proficiency rates fall as students move forward. By 11th grade, only a third score at proficient levels. Achievement levels are much lower for students with disabilities, and low-income and English Learner (EL) students.

Source: California’s K–12 Test Scores: What Can the Available Data Tell Us? – Public Policy Institute of California

Why Common Core Standards Alone Won’t Boost Test Scores – Forbes

By Natalie Wexler

Higher academic standards like those in the Common Core were supposed to improve student performance, but new data shows that hasn’t happened. Teachers need more specific guidance than standards provide, and they need to build knowledge beginning in the early grades that standards don’t reach.

For the last thirty years, education reformers have pinned their hopes on rigorous academic standards. That movement culminated in the Common Core literacy and math standards, which most states have adopted. Once high standards were in place, the theory went, schools would adjust their teaching to meet them and test scores would rise.

Source: Why Common Core Standards Alone Won’t Boost Test Scores

Scores Stagnant For Students With Disabilities on ‘Nation’s Report Card’ – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

Students with disabilities posted stagnant scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2017 and failed to close the gap with students not identified as having disabilities, who also reflected generally flat performance on the latest results for what’s been called the “Nation’s Report Card.”

Fourth-grade students with disabilities earned an average of 187 on the NAEP’s reading test and 214 on the NAEP’s math test, both of which are scored on a 500-point scale.

For 4th-grade students without disabilities, however, the average score was 227 on the reading test and 243 on the math test.

Eighth grade students with disabilities earned 232 on the reading test and 247 on the math test. Reading was a small bright spot—that score was a 2-point gain for students with disabilities from the last time the test was administered, in 2015.

Source: Scores Stagnant For Students With Disabilities on ‘Nation’s Report Card’ – On Special Education – Education Week

The Myth That School Selection Boosts Exam Results – Forbes

By Nick Morrison

Selective education has had its reputation demolished as new research busts the myth that school selection boosts exam results.

A new study shows that the difference in results between selective and non-selective schools owes more to their students’ genes than to the quality of education the schools offer.

Analysis of thousands of student records found that selective schools added very little value, and that their students did no better than they would have at a non-selective school.The findings blow a hole in the case for selection, which has been a touchstone issue for some in education for more than 40 years.

Source: Busted: The Myth That School Selection Boosts Exam Results

Vacaville Unified leaders to discuss Measure A contracts – The Reporter

A biennial report about Alamo Elementary, accountability “local indicators,” and several large contracts are on the agenda when Vacaville Unified leaders meet tonight in Vacaville.

Derek Wickliff, principal of Alamo Elementary, will present the report about the South Orchard Avenue campus. He will touch on a variety of topics. They include the school’s music program; recent past events; data from the California Dashboard, the state’s new schools accountability system, with statistics about suspension rates, English learner progress, and results from the 2017 state standardized tests; and attendance.

A district staff member will present information about local indicators from the Dashboard. They include basic services, the carrying-out of academic standards, parent engagement and school climate.

Through this accountability system, each California school district and charter school is required to provide a “narrative,” complete a rating scale, or use survey results to determine progress.

Source: Vacaville Unified leaders to discuss Measure A contracts

State board alters criteria for rating school performance on new state dashboard | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

Citing methodology flaws, the State Board of Education on Wednesday revised criteria for rating performance on standardized test scores on the new color-coded California School Dashboard. The unanimous decision will reduce the number of districts and schools rated red, the lowest performing of the five color categories, but board members and state administrators insisted that was not the motivating factor (see previous story).

“It would be worse to do nothing; that would undermine credibility (of the system) and create more volatility” in test score ratings, said board member Ilene Straus, who monitors school improvement and accountability issues for the board.

The fix — which was proposed by a technical group of advisers to the California State Department of Education — was in response to what would otherwise be a big fluctuation in school and district color designations on the “academic” indicator, which includes test scores, on the school dashboard.

Source: State board alters criteria for rating school performance on new state dashboard | EdSource

K–12 Test Scores Vary Widely across Student Groups – Public Policy Institute of California

By Paul Warren

The 2017 test results for California’s public K–12 school students were essentially unchanged from 2016. But behind the overall results, there were significant differences among student groups. Economically disadvantaged students—mostly those who are eligible for free or reduced price school meals—continued to score far below students not in this category. Students with disabilities and English Learner (EL) students performed at levels significantly below those of low-income students. Gaps in achievement among these groups were essentially unchanged in 2017.

Known as the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), tests in English and mathematics are administered to virtually all K–12 students in grades 3 through 8 and in grade 11. Students take the computer-based assessments in late spring each year. The scores are reported across four performance levels. In English this year, 45% percent of students performed at the top two levels, which signal that they are working at or above the state’s standard for proficiency. About 28% of all tested students fell into the lowest performance level, “below standard.” In comparison, fewer students had mastered the mathematics skills needed to meet state standards, with 38% earning a proficient score. More than a third (36%) scored at the lowest performance level.

Source: K–12 Test Scores Vary Widely across Student Groups – Public Policy Institute of California

CAASPP scores, solicitation of construction project bids on FSUSD agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The latest state standardized test scores and the solicitation of several construction project bids are on the agenda when Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.

Assistant Superintendent Sheila McCabe is expected to present a report on the 2017 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP, which gauges how students in grades 3 to eight and 11 performed on the tests, based on California State Standards, last spring. It is the third year in which the all-computerized tests of English and math skills have been administered.

According to state data, some 11,450 district students were tested.

Forty-four percent met or exceeded state standards in English, 31 percent did so in math, roughly the same as the Solano County average, but somewhat below the state averages of 49 and 38 percent, respectively.

Source: CAASPP scores, solicitation of construction project bids on FSUSD agenda

BUSD highlights successes, areas for improvement in state test results – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia Unified School District outlined positive highlights and areas for improvement when data from the most recent Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) was presented at Thursday’s Governing Board meeting.

The SBAC was initiated in 2015 and replaced the previous California Standards Test following the state’s shift to Common Core practices. The statewide assessment is given to all students in grades 3 to 8 and 11 in the areas of math and English Language Arts (ELA). According to Dr. Leslie Beatson, BUSD’s assistant superintendent of educational services, the test is taken on a computer and quizzes students in a variety of formats, including multiple choice, short answer, constructed response and performance test. The test also utilizes a concept called universal design where accommodations such as enlarged text or Individualized Education Program arrangements for special education students can be built in.

Source: BUSD highlights successes, areas for improvement in state test results

New poll: Safe and positive school environment more important than higher test scores | EdSource

By Louis Freedberg, John Fensterwald & Theresa Harrington

In evaluating school performance, registered voters in California say creating a safe and positive school environment is far more important than higher scores on standardized tests, according to a Berkeley IGS/EdSource poll.

Voters also express considerable concerns about bullying, school fights and other forms of intimidation or violence on school campuses, along with harassment that students experience through social media.

These are among the principal findings of the poll to be released Thursday at EdSource’s 40th anniversary symposium in Oakland.

The poll reveals strong voter support for school districts to devote more funds and resources to address the needs of the state’s most vulnerable students, a central theme of this year’s symposium. In particular, voters feel strongly that schools should do more to support homeless children as well as those whose family members are threatened with deportation as a result of current heightened federal immigration enforcement policies.

Source: New poll: Safe and positive school environment more important than higher test scores | EdSource

On Dixon USD agenda: State test scores, update on elementary reconfiguration – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The 2017 CAASPP results, approval of a temporary roof cover at Old Dixon High, and an update about input from three parent meetings about the possible reconfiguration of district elementary schools are on the agenda when Dixon Unified leaders meet Thursday.

Nick Girimonte, newly named assistant superintendent for educational services, will lead the discussion about the district’s 2017 California Assessment of Student Proficiency and Program scores.

This is the third year of the computer-based tests, based on the California State Standards, which gauge whether students in grades three to eight and 11 are able to understand what they read, write clearly, think critically, solve complex math problems, and explain their reasoning as they prepare themselves for college, the military, and a rapidly changing and increasingly technological job market.

Scores fall into one of four achievement levels: standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met, and standard not met. The state also computes the average scores of all tested students, by grade level, called “mean scale” scores, which reflects the progress of all students rather than only those who changed achievement levels from one year to the next.

Source: On Dixon Unified School District agenda: State test scores, update on elementary reconfiguration

BUSD to tackle state test data at Thursday’s school board meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The school board will hear a report and discussion on the data from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) at Thursday’s meeting.

The SBAC is a statewide assessment administered to all third through eighth-graders and 11th-graders in the areas of English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. The SBAC replaced the California Standards test following the state’s shift to Common Core standards and allow students to not only answer questions in a variety of formats but also require students to explain their answers in an effort to demonstrate their knowledge. It also utilizes a computer whereas the previous test used the traditional pencil and paper.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Leslie Beatson and Educational Services Coordinator Stephanie Rice will dive into the findings from the results at Thursday’s meeting.

Source: BUSD to tackle state test data at Thursday’s school board meeting

Latest academic tests underscore California’s education crisis – The Reporter

By Dan Walters

California has spent tens of billions of extra dollars on its K-12 school system in recent years on promises that its abysmal levels of academic achievement – especially those of disadvantaged children – would be improved.

And what have those massive expenditures – a 50 percent increase in per-pupil spending – and a massive reworking of school curriculums accomplished?

Not much, the latest results from annual testing indicate.

Mathematics and English tests based on “Common Core” standards were administered last spring to half of the state’s 6-plus million K-12 students, those in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 11.

Source: CALmatters Commentary: Latest academic tests underscore California’s education crisis

New CAASPP results: Most Vaca-area districts exceed state, county averages – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

After a few weeks’ delay, the 2017 online state standardized test scores are in, and most Vacaville-area school districts posted results that met or exceeded Solano County and state averages but largely remained the same as last year’s, reflecting the latest state averages, several administrators said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced Wednesday the results of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English and mathematics, noting, in a prepared statement, that they

“remained steady and retained the strong gains students made in 2016.”

Source: New CAASPP results: Most Vaca-area districts exceed state, county averages

Little change in Solano County for English, math state test results – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

Forty-three percent of Solano County students met or exceeded standards in English language arts compared to 44 percent in 2016, while 33 percent of students met or exceeded math standards compared to 32 percent in 2016, the county Office of Education reports.

The percentage of students for English language arts and math in performance categories – standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met and standard not met – was relatively unchanged from 2016, the office said of Smarter Balanced state test results.

Source: Little change in Solano County for English, math state test results

2017 CAASPP Scores Released – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that 2017 scores for the online California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English language arts and mathematics remained steady and retained the strong gains students made in 2016.

This is the third year of the computer-based tests, which use California’s challenging academic standards and ask students to write clearly, think critically, and solve complex problems, just as they will need to do in college and 21st century careers.

Torlakson said he was pleased that students maintained the progress they have made since the initial year of testing and urged students, teachers, and parents to continue to aim high.

“I’m pleased we retained our gains, but we have much more work to do. We need to work diligently to narrow achievement gaps and make sure all students continue to make progress,” he said. “It’s important to remember that these tests are far more rigorous and realistic than the previous paper and pencil tests. We are asking more of our students, but for a good reason—so they are better prepared for the world of college and careers.”

Source: 2017 CAASPP Scores Released – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Expanded rating system helps California parents understand how schools are doing | EdSource

California is the first state in the nation to get enhanced school ratings from GreatSchools, an Oakland-based nonprofit.

The improved ratings now include course access, student progress and equity — which are intended to help parents choose schools, advocate to improve them and support their children’s education.

Those measures are in addition to test scores and other data that was previously included in school profiles on the group’s website.

“We believe schools must serve the needs of every child, in every community, and we know that parents play an enormous role in ensuring this happens,” said Matthew Nelson, president of GreatSchools. “We hope our new rating system and school profiles will further enable parents to be strong advocates for their children — and all children in their communities — to help all kids have a shot at success.”

Source: Expanded rating system helps California parents understand how schools are doing | EdSource

Dixon Unified agenda: Updates on state test scores, Measure Q – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Dixon Unified leaders, when they meet tonight, will hear a presentation on state standardized test scores, an update on Measure Q on the November ballot, and the Dixon High Farm.

The assistant superintendent of educational services, Mike Walbridge will tell the five-member governing board that, of the 1,700 out of 3,500 students tested last spring in grades three to eight and 11, 32 percent met or exceeded state standards in math and 41 percent did so in English.

Dixon’s scores on the 2016 California Assessment of Student Proficiency and Progress (CAASPP) roughly matched those of Solano County as a whole but fell well below the state averages.

Source: Dixon Unified agenda: Updates on state test scores, Measure Q

Unfair to compare district test scores to other district’s – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

In a wide-ranging review of recent state standards test results, a Travis Unified official noted it was unfair to compare the Fairfield district’s comparatively laudable scores with numbers from other districts with higher percentages of English learners, poor students and foster youth.

During the district’s once-monthly governing board meeting Tuesday, Sue Brothers, assistant superintendent for educational services, noted Travis’s demographic count — 2,900 students tested in grades three to eight and 11 — included 32 percent of “unduplicated” students, whereas neighboring Vacaville Unified’s percentage of English learners, poor students and foster youth who were tested was greater than 40 percent.

She appeared to suggest such differences may affect test scores, as can parent education level, including whether or not a father or mother, or both, graduated from college or earned a post-graduate degree.

Source: Unfair to compare district test scores to other district’s – The Reporter