When I was a school board member, I was rather mute on topics dealing with educational issues. I did not want people to think that my personal opinion in any way was that of the whole board or the board as a whole. Now that my term is over and I am back to being a constituent, I feel a bit more at ease discussing education issues on this blog.
Common core has been coming for several years. The district I live in began to implement it a year prior to the state requiring common core in the elementary levels. If nothing else, one thing I learned while a board of education member was if you are positive a change is coming, jump on it early. Eventually – at least in NYS, the change will be forced on you. Better to have time to implement than to not.
This past spring saw the culmination of a year of new assessments. I want to point out a few things. Student learning objectives (SLOs) are basically assessments. State testing is an assessment. Quarterly tests to see progress, pre-tests and post-tests are all assessments. Some of these tools are including in grades for the students for a particular course. Some are not. At the elementary and middle school levels, state standardized tests are not part of students’ grades. They are used to measure a particular student’s proficiency of curriculum items. One school district may get through the entire second grade state curriculum with time to reinforce topics. Another district may struggle to hit all topics. Consequently, a state test is based on what the state says should be taught in particular curriculum. The results from such tests are a continuum of proficiency.
NYS Education Department released the grades 3-8 state assessment results for Math and English Language Art (ELA) from spring of 2013 today. I have a close to 2000 page pdf to prove it. The results, as any school district worth its salt has been telling constituents, were bound to be lower. Why, you may ask?
This year is the first year that the state assessments coincided with Common Core. The tests were more stringent than in previous years. This is not the first year that tests scores have dropped, though. Remember back 2-3 years ago. No saw coming what happened that year. The state supplied the assessments. Students took the tests. The state changed the grading scale. Numbers that would have been proficient in years past were no longer. In hindsight, the state did everyone a favor by doing this. People should be able to live with the scores from this year’s assessments.
Things to remember if you are a parent or concerned taxpayer
- State assessments are not, at the grades 3-8 levels, part of students’ grades in the course work.
- Common core will be more difficult but is meant to give our students what they need for 21st century education and work.
- A number on an assessment, like a number on the scale, does not define a student, a teacher, a particular class, a grade of students, a school, or a district.
- Stretching one’s abilities helps make a person reach further.
Did your children, or children you teach, take common core based assessments this year? Did they do better or worse than in previous years?