Noteworthy scores out of Kentucky, the first state to introduce tests explicitly tied to the Common Core State Standards.
Kentucky is part of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a consortium of 23 states including Georgia that is developing a common set of k-12 assessments in English and math grounded in what it takes to be ready for college and careers. Those assessments will be ready for states to administer during the 2014-15 school year
While the new Kentucky tests are not the PARCC tests, they are closely aligned and thus seen as a harbinger of things to come.
And what’s coming will initially be disappointing, although expected. Testing experts say that a conversion to a new test usually brings a drop in scores.
Education Week reports that the share of Kentucky students scoring “proficient” or better in reading and math dropped by roughly a third or more in both elementary and middle school the first year the tests were given.
According to the story:
Kentucky in 2010 was the first state to adopt the common core in English/language arts and mathematics, and the assessment results released last week for the 2011-12 school year are being closely watched by school officials and policymakers nationwide for what they may reveal about how the common standards may affect student achievement in coming years. So far, 46 states have adopted the English/language arts common standards; 45 states have done so in math.
“What you’re seeing in Kentucky is a predictor of what you’re going to see in the other states, as the assessments roll out next year and the year after,” said Gene Wilhoit, the executive director of the Washington-based Council of Chief State School Officers, which spearheaded the common-core initiative along with the National Governors Association. Mr. Wilhoit was also previously Kentucky’s education commissioner.
The drop in Kentucky’s scores conform to what state education officials had expected: that students in grades 3-8 taking the new, more-rigorous Kentucky Performance Rating of Education Progress, or K-PREP, would not be able to reach their achievement levels of prior years. Kentucky began implementing the common standards in the 2011-12 school year.
The biggest drop came at the elementary level. On the previous Kentucky Core Content Tests, 76 percent of elementary students scored proficient or higher in reading in the 2010-11 school year. That percentage plunged to 48 percent for the K-PREP results in the 2011-12 school year, a drop-off in proficiency of more than a third. In 2010-11, 73 percent of elementary students were proficient or better in math, but that fell to 40.4 percent. That drop represents a 45 percent decline in the share of proficient students.
When new tests are introduced, states can expect scores to fall in most cases, said Douglas McRae, a retired assessment designer who helped build California’s testing system. “When you change the measure, change the tests, then you interrupt the continuity of trend data over time. That’s the fundamental thing that happens,” he said.
K-PREP does not represent the final, polished version of common-core assessments. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium are designing the tests that most states have signed on to for gauging students’ mastery of the common standards nationwide beginning in the 2014-15 school year.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog