Student testing and the use of assessment outcomes have been the hot education issue of the past year. The Common Core went from what seemed like a common sense way to set standards across states that are comparable, and to provide a guide to better test assessments, to a widely despised policy blamed for over testing of students and many other concerns.
Still, several states, including Colorado, moved forward with either PARCC or Smarter Balanced tests last year, with full knowledge that these tougher assessments were likely to reveal a smaller percentage of state students performing at proficient levels. Colorado results should be available soon.
A recent LA Times article analyzes the first Smarter Balanced results from California, which show drops. The percentage of students proficient in English and Math fell across the state (see table below for Math results – English looks similar).
Prior to the new test, student results had gradually improved over the past 7-8 years of the prior California test, which probably gave districts and schools a sense of accomplishment, false or not. Lower scores on the new test may provide a more accurate picture of student achievement, especially as we think about international educational attainment comparisons. But lower scores also have potential implications for teacher evaluations based upon test results and for school morale.