Nevada releases Common Core test results; all weren’t tested

22 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

LLOYD BENTSEN IV: Common Core is just another failed education reform.

BOSTON — It has been one of the most stubborn problems in education: With 50 states, 50 standards and 50 tests, how could anyone really know what American students were learning, or how well? LAS VEGAS (AP) – Nevada was confident enough in the partial student results from its Common Core-aligned state test that it released them this week, even though 7 of 10 students weren’t tested because of computer glitches. At a dinner with colleagues in 2009, Mitchell Chester, Massachusetts’s commissioner of education, hatched what seemed like an obvious answer — a national test based on the Common Core standards that almost every state had recently adopted.

On his recommendation, the State Board of Education decided last week that Massachusetts would go it alone and abandon the multistate test in favor of one to be developed for just this state. However, of the states that have adopted and implemented the standards, 14 are downgrading their participation or withdrawing from national tests designed around those standards.

And it isn’t the first time states have had to deal with compromised test results from a system that is supposed to be standardized, allowing easy year to year and state to state comparison. Two multistate testing groups — the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — received $360 million in taxpayer funds to create Common Core-compliant tests. The state’s rejection of that test sounded the bell on common assessments, signaling that the future will now look much like the past — with more tests, but almost no ability to compare the difference between one state and another. “It’s hugely symbolic because Massachusetts is widely seen as kind of the gold standard in successful education reform,” said Morgan Polikoff, an assistant professor of education at the University of Southern California, who is leading an evaluation of the national tests. “It opens the door for a lot of other states that are under a lot of pressure to repeal Common Core. Conservative critics have argued that the initiative is another instance of federal overreach, attempting to exert federal control over the public school curriculum.

Getting rid of these tests is a nice bone to throw.” The fight in Massachusetts has been dizzying, with a strange alliance between the teachers’ union and a conservative think tank that years before had been a chief proponent of the state’s earlier drive for standards and high-stakes tests. The fifth-largest school district in the country has already decided it won’t release the individual scores to students and parents as districts typically do. People on either side of the debate here still celebrate the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993 as “the grand bargain.” Democratic legislators and the Republican governor at the time, William F.

Weld, agreed to give schools more money in exchange for ambitious standards defining what students were expected to learn and new tests tied to those standards, including one that, by 2003, students had to pass to graduate from high school. David Flatt, president of the Nevada Parent Teacher Association, said the move will ultimately benefit the smaller districts outside of southern Nevada that didn’t experience technical problems. Adding to the testing woes are massive student opt-outs in New York and, to a lesser extent in other states, and states falsely inflating test results and school performance. The backlash against Common Core has grown steadily since states first implemented the initiative, and now even teachers’ unions are withdrawing their support. About 82 percent of its students took the test after Montana offered a waiver to any school that couldn’t or wouldn’t finish testing. “It’s really important for us to be careful and thoughtful and making sure what we release has context and makes sense for parents and teachers,” said Emilie Ritter Saunders, spokeswoman for the Montana Office of Public Instruction.

Chester and his counterparts in Louisiana and Florida proposed that states also combine resources on a test, not only to compare results but to afford a better test design. In past years Wyoming and Kansas were granted waivers when their testing was so compromised that they didn’t use their scores, even though all students finished the test.

He awarded $4 billion in grants to 11 states that demonstrated dedication to education reform, including high-stakes testing and adopting standards such as Common Core. Students who are fully engaged in difficult subjects such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics have a much better chance to successfully develop skills for today’s workforce. As part of its Race to the Top program, the administration in 2010 awarded about $350 million to design the PARCC and the other national test, known as Smarter Balanced.

But in 2014, the membership elected a new president, Barbara Madeloni, who had campaigned against high-stakes tests, period. “It is destructive to our students and our teachers and the very possibility of joyful and meaningful public education,” Madeloni said in an interview. Supporters of the standards countered that Pioneer’s biggest donors include Koch and the Walton Family Foundation, funders of other conservative causes.

Jim Stergios, Pioneer’s executive director, said, “David Koch never talked to me about Common Core.” Supporters of PARCC also accused its opponents of distorting facts. No matter how well the government makes plans to fund and operate a program properly, it never will meet the standard of success achieved by private, competing enterprises. In fact, Common Core requires students to read more nonfiction, but only because it requires them to do expository reading in all subjects, including science and math. “The opposition was making some wild claims that the proponents answered with factual information, assuming that everyone would take a very rational approach to the facts and reach a valid conclusion,” said Linda M. Bentsen IV is the National Center for Policy Analysis senior research fellow covering a variety of topics that include education reform, school choice, student engagement, energy, environment, natural resources and economics.

Noonan, the executive director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, a proponent of higher standards. “But that isn’t how the public process works.” “We blew it,” said Mr.

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