The most basic takeaway - both from Dorn and others touting the Washington state scores - is a big fat WHEW. The scores were not nearly as bad as they could have been. We can debate why that might be later on.
One big consideration is the difference between states using SBAC and those using PARCC. Sixteen states (and what are called "affiliate" states) are using SBAC and 11 states and D. C. are using PARCC. ( To note: PARCC had been in 26 states and the drop to 11 caused the Boston Globe to say the test is in a "death spiral.") Other states are using their own tests or some tweaked version of either SBAC or PARCC.
They are two different tests. To compare the test scores against each other is going to be apples and oranges and that's why I was surprised to hear a Seattle Schools principal brag about how much better Washington State did than NY State when Washington is an SBAC state and NY State is not.
SBAC has created its own cut scores but states are free to make their own. (Vermont and New Hampshire abstained from the vote on approval of SBAC cut scores.) From Ed Source:
Under NCLB, cut scores “led to dysfunctional behavior” in which school districts focused their attention on “bubble kids” – raising scores of those right below the cut score while ignoring those further below or above the line, she said. Schools would not get credit when students showed growth within achievement levels from year to year or when scores grew significantly but fell short of proficient.One thing to keep in mind, no matter the actual scores, is this from an Ed Source article in Jan. 2015 on California (which also just started taking the SBAC test):
“Let’s be frank: All scores will be shifted to the left,” he said, meaning lower on the point scale, with fewer students deemed to be proficient than under the old state standards and more students scoring at basic or below basic levels. “We have to educate parents about that. It’s not that your kid got dumber; there has been a shift in systems.”I think that's probably quite true. You cannot expect a shift in both WHAT is taught and HOW it is tested without seeing a downward shift in scores (at least on a large scale - individual schools may have done better).
I'll have to ask the District what their view is but California's State Board president said it will take "five more years for full implementation of the new standards, with fully trained teachers using fully developed curricula and textbooks." I think that is also true as well.
Of course, there is the obvious - like much of what is in vogue to do in public education - this is all the grand experiment. No one really knows if these are the best standards (and given that they cannot be tweaked much by input from teachers and administrators, we may be stuck) or if SBAC or PARCC are the best testing instruments. But if we are not happy with current outcomes, then some change had to happen.
One thing that does have to change is delivery of the scores to districts, teachers and parents. Dorn repeatedly blamed the vendor for the time delay but did not reassure taxpayers as to whether the State will see some kind of refund for the vendor's failure to perform.
According to SBAC:
- 4 weeks after student finishes testing, preliminary results are sent to the district
- 4 weeks after entire district finishes, results go to the district
- 8 weeks after entire district finishes, results for individual students are sent to the district. The district then decides when to send the reports to parents.
- the public gets the results whenever the state agency decides to release them