By Sarah Tully
Comparing California scores on tests aligned with the Common Core standards to those in other states isn’t a straightforward process.
California students’ results are among the lowest when compared to the other eight states that have released Smarter Balanced assessment scores so far. But drawing conclusions may be difficult because California’s student population is much larger and its schools enroll more English learners and low-income students. See charts of scores in eight Smarter Balanced states.
“It’s not just a straight across comparison,” Keric Ashley, California’s deputy superintendent of public instruction, warned during a Wednesday conference call with reporters. “We need to factor in being such a large state as we are – a large percentage of English learners, a large percentage of students in poverty. There are a lot of factors that go into place before making that comparison.”
via Proceed with caution when comparing California test scores with other states | EdSource.
Test results released Wednesday by the California Department of Education set a new baseline for academic performance of students, schools and districts. The tests set standards at readiness for college unlike the old, multiple-choice tests they replaced. Results, in combination with new online instructional resources and local accountability tools, give parents, educators and stakeholders much more actionable data than ever before.
The results show that 53 percent of California’s students meet or nearly meet the English Language Arts achievement standards, and 48 percent meet or nearly meet the mathematics achievement standards. One of 10 students exceeds the standards for both subjects. At every grade level, English Language Arts results are stronger for girls than for boys. The results for math show much less gender disparity. Results for students from traditionally disadvantaged groups show significant achievement gaps.
These new tests aligned with the Common Core Standards ask a lot more of students than the old, multiple-choice exams. The new tests use computer adaptive technology to provide more accurate information about individual student performance. Along with reading to follow a story, students are asked to cite evidence and draw logical conclusions. They are using math to solve real-world problems.
via SBE News Release for September 10, 2015 – State Board of Education (CA Dept of Education).
By Richard Bammer
By late August or early September, parents of students in Solano County public schools likely will receive results from a new standardized test, county education officials have announced.
However, state officials caution parents and the public against comparing the results of the new assessment with the old STAR exam, and acknowledge that many schools and students will need more time to become accustomed to the state’s standards and new exam.
“The online exams in English language arts/literacy and mathematics are based on the state’s more challenging academic standards and are helping us transform education to better prepare California students for college and careers in the 21st century,” County Superintendent of Schools Jay Speck said in a written statement.
via Parents to receive results soon from state’s new standardized test.
By Kevin W. Green
Parents of students in Solano County schools will soon see the results of the new testing format, known as the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress.
The new format was given to students from March to June of the 2014-15 school year in third through eighth grade and 11th grade, according to a Solano County Office of Education press release Friday.
This was the first administration of the new tests – replacing the paper-based, multiple-choice Standardized Testing and Reporting program, the release said.
via Parents to see results of new testing format for students.
By Christina Samuels
Most students with individualized education programs scored in the lowest achievement level on the field tests administered last spring by the Smarter Balanced Achievement Consortium, according to data released by the test-development organization.
The range of students with IEPs scoring at level 1, the lowest of four levels on the test, ranged from 61 percent in 4th grade math to 77 percent in 7th grade English/language arts. In comparison, 27 percent of all students scored at the lowest level in 4th grade math, and 34 percent of all students scored at the lowest level in 7th grade English/language arts.
Students with disabilities performed best in 3rd grade math, where 18 percent scored at level 3 or above, indicating they are proficient in the skills and knowledge for their grade. For all students, 39 percent were able to clear that bar.
via Smarter Balanced Field-Test Data Show Large Score Gaps Among Students With IEPs – On Special Education – Education Week.
By John Fensterwald
California policymakers say they intend to create a different system for reporting results of the upcoming tests on the Common Core standards than parents and schools have become used to in the era of the No Child Left Behind Act.
At this point, they can’t say what it will look like. The reporting system is one of several moving parts that include recalibrating the Academic Performance Index, the current measure of school improvement, of which the results on the Common Core standards would be a big piece. But state leaders can say what the new system won’t be: anything resembling the federal system for measuring schools, which led to most being judged failures.
“States can report however we want and can include anything that we want,” said Michael Kirst, president of the State Board of Education, which is immersed in creating a new accountability system for districts and schools.
via State rethinks how to report test scores | EdSource.
By Alyson Klein
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said yesterday that the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress results show “encouraging but modest” signs of progress. (Quick take: 8th graders’ average score in math increased 1 point since 2011, the last time the test was given, and 3 points in reading on the exam’s 500-point scale. Fourth graders inched up 1 point in math. But there was no statistically significant gain in reading for fourth graders. Way more from Catherine Gewertz of Curriculum Matters fame.)
via Arne Duncan ‘Encouraged’ By NAEP Results – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
SANTA ANA—California school kids made slight gains this year in two of the most important indicators of health and physical fitness, and held relatively steady overall, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.
About 1.34 million fifth, seventh, and ninth graders took the FITNESSGRAM® this year (Table 1), nearly 94 percent of students enrolled in those grades in public schools statewide. Students in grades five and seven improved in aerobic capacity and body composition, two of the six areas that are assessed annually and considered among the most important gauges of health. Students in grade nine showed improvement in aerobic capacity, but dipped a tenth of a percentage point in body composition (Table 2).
via Physical Fitness Test Results for 2012-13 – Year 2013 (CA Dept of Education).
By Ryan McCarthy
Fitness scores for students in the Travis School District, already above the state average, climbed higher still from last year.
Figures released by the California Department of Education show the Travis district exceeding the state percentage for fifth-, seventh- and ninth-grade students in the healthy fitness zone in categories including aerobic capacity, abdominal strength and body composition.
via Fitness scores climb for Travis School District Daily Republic.
Periodically – albeit, not frequently – it dawns on the Capitol’s politicians that the 6 million kids in California’s public schools aren’t learning as much as they should be, and they vow to do something big about it.
That’s why, for instance, then-Gov. Pete Wilson championed elementary school class size reduction nearly two decades ago. That’s why his successor, Gray Davis, pushed through the Public Schools Accountability Act, which rated districts and schools on academic improvements via testing.
Dan Walters: Does latest school ‘reform’ benefit students — or teachers? – Dan Walters – The Sacramento Bee.
SAN FRANCISCO – Secretary of Education Arne Duncan acknowledged serious flaws in the standardized tests that currently drive American schools, telling an audience of education researchers on Tuesday that the tests are an inadequate gauge of student and teacher performance.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Duncan criticized “high-stakes testing where children’s lives or teachers’ careers are based on one test,” but he said that abandoning standardized testing was not the answer. He listed a series of misguided uses of standardized tests, mentioning a school in Florida that evaluated teachers in kindergarten through second grade based on how students performed in third and fourth grade, and a school in Memphis that evaluated art teachers based on student scores in math and English.
via Duncan admits flaws in current standardized testing – by Jane Meredith Adams.
By Merrill Vargo / commentary
I was troubled the other day to hear a colleague describe how hard it was to motivate a group of teachers to take on some aspect of the Common Core because they were “so focused on the high-stakes assessments.” I’m not blaming the teachers, but this reaction is a signal that leaders need to step up and admit that this particular emperor has no clothes. The only thing that makes the current California Standards Tests (CSTs) high-stakes assessments today is that we persist in caring about them.
via Let’s shelve the CSTs so the real work can begin – by Merrill Vargo / commentary.
Guest post by Sarah D. Sparks. Cross-posted from Inside School Research.
Background data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress add to the growing pile of evidence that student absenteeism can hamstring a district’s performance on the test dubbed the “Nation’s Report Card.”
Education consultant Alan Ginsburg presented the latest analysis of NAEP background data at a meeting of the National Assessment Governing Board in Tysons Corner, Va., last Thursday. The updated “NAEP Time for Learning” report is part of an ongoing project to use the massive ancillary data generated by the tests to provide more context for student performance.
via NAEP: Student Absenteeism Hampers Test Scores.
I find it so irritating when you know in advance that you will despise a person, yet when you finally meet them, they turn out to be articulate and funny and they make a lot of sense.
Michelle Rhee led the Washington, D.C., schools for three turbulent years. The schools were in bad shape. Only 50 percent of students graduated, most students were at least one grade level behind, and the district was burning through money.
Her job was to turn things around, and she was brutal. She immediately fired 36 poorly performing principals, 120 office staff, and closed 23 schools. She then turned to the teachers: Good teachers (love those standardized tests!) got big bonuses. Poor teachers — 250 of them — were fired.
via Ernest Kimme: Michelle Rhee is charming, but where is her evidence.
News Item: Seattle teachers are boycotting giving state standardized tests this year.
The protest started at a single high school and has spread. Parents and students are supporting the boycott. Parents complain that the tests do not add anything to their children’s education and that the results are meaningless. How, they ask, can you compare a one-day test to all of the work their children complete during the year?
Teachers point out that the tests, being multiple choice questions, favor good test-takers. Students who have good test-taking strategies will do better than other students with superior knowledge but poor test-taking abilities.
via Ernest Kimme: Test backlash spreading.
By Kathryn Baron
The conventional wisdom that American students lag far behind top performers like Finland and South Korea in academic achievement is oversimplified. A new study out today by researchers at Stanford University and the Economic Policy Institute finds that comparisons of scores on international tests fail to adequately consider social and economic differences.
“If the social class distribution of the United States were similar to that of top-scoring countries, the average test score gap between the United States and these top-scoring countries would be cut in half in reading and by one-third in mathematics,” write Stanford Education Professor Martin Carnoy and Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, in their report, What do International Tests Really Show About U.S. Student Performance?
via Debunking mediocre performance of U.S. students – by Kathryn Baron.
By John Fensterwald
To give districts breathing room to prepare for complex tests on the Common Core standards and to free up money to do so, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is recommending the suspension after this year of most state standardized tests not mandated by the federal government. He made the recommendations in a lengthy report (download top item) released Tuesday.
If adopted by the Legislature, the report’s dozen recommendations would represent the most sweeping changes to state testing since the adoption of the State Standardized Reporting Program or STAR system in the late 1990s. They would start the transition to a new accountability system, based on different priorities, perhaps with fewer tests or with subject tests not given to every student every year – the operating principle of the current system. Torlakson suggests alternatives in an appendix.
via Legislature to consider suspending state tests ahead of Common Core – by John Fensterwald.
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today recommended shifting the focus of standardized testing in California to require students to think critically, solve problems, and show a greater depth of knowledge—key tenents of the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
In a report to the Governor and Legislature, Recommendations for Transitioning California to a Future Assessment System, Torlakson made a dozen recommendations that would fundamentally change the state’s student assessment system, replacing the paper-and-pencil based Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program assessments with computerized assessments developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) starting in the 2014‒15 school year.
via New Statewide Testing System.
By John Fensterwald
Facing a court-ordered deadline, Los Angeles Unified and its teachers union have agreed on a framework for evaluating teachers that will include using student scores on local and state standardized tests – but only to a limited, as yet undetermined extent.
The tentative agreement announced Friday, responds to a Superior Court ruling in June that found the district had failed to comply with a state law requiring that measures of student academic progress be factored into a teacher’s performance review. Although Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant’s ruling applied only to Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest district, many, if not most, districts in California also ignore that provision of the Stull Act. These districts should “take notice,” said Bill Lucia, president and CEO of the Sacramento advocacy organization EdVoice, which sued the district and United Teachers Los Angeles a year ago on behalf of a half-dozen unnamed parents.
via Los Angeles Unified, union cut deal on test scores and evaluations – by John Fensterwald.
By John Fensterwald
In Los Angeles Unified, novice teachers tend to be assigned students who are academically farther behind those assigned to experienced teachers. Before they depart, usually after only two years, Teach for America teachers have a bigger impact on students than that of other new teachers. And National Board Certified teachers significantly outperform other teachers in LAUSD.
These are among the findings of an extensive seven-year study of about a third of teachers in LAUSD by the Strategic Data Project, which is affiliated with the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University. Researchers have conducted similar analyses of teacher recruitment, development and retention patterns in three dozen school districts and charter organizations nationwide, under work funded by the Gates Foundation. LAUSD’s report, which was released Wednesday, could become a key resource as the district and United Teachers Los Angeles negotiate changes to teacher evaluations and other parts of the teachers’ contract.
via Analysis shows differences in teacher effectiveness in LAUSD – by John Fensterwald.