Common Core Test Results From New York

Remember how I said the scores would low for Common Core assessments?  That we were warned they would be low?  This from Politico.

New York released nearly 2,000 pages of data parsing the poor performance of students in third through eighth grade. In Rochester, for instance, just 5 percent of students scored proficient in math. Fewer than 9 percent of students in Syracuse passed the reading test. Statewide, just 19 percent of low-income students made the grade in language arts.

From the NY Times:

In New York City, 26 percent of students in third through eighth grade passed the tests in English, and 30 percent passed in math, according to the New York State Education Department. 

Last year, under an easier test, 47 percent of city students passed in English, and 60 percent in math.  

City and state officials spent months trying to steel the public for the grim figures.
But when the results were released, many educators responded with shock that their students measured up so poorly against the new yardsticks of achievement. 

But striking gaps in achievement between black and Hispanic students and their counterparts persisted. In math, 15 percent of black students and 19 percent of Hispanic students passed the exam, compared with 50 percent of white students and 61 percent of Asian students. 

Students with disadvantages struggled as well. On the English exam, 3 percent of nonnative speakers were deemed proficient, and 6 percent of students with disabilities passed. 

And even at some of the city’s highest-performing schools, there were noticeable drops. At the Anderson School in Manhattan, a highly selective school, for instance, 5 out of 65 eighth graders did not pass the English test; last year, the entire seventh grade passed the exam.

The new buzzword is "baseline."  Don't panic, don't worry, it's just a baseline score.  Arne Duncan says it's finally time for accountability and this is the start.  Well, here's another thought:

Yet critics fumed that the state was setting kids up to fail — and failing to acknowledge that crimped budgets, crowded classrooms and high student poverty rates have all played a role in limiting student achievement.

If these scores are any indication, they have certainly lower the bar (and their expectations).

And, guess who did the worst? Charter schools.

Fewer than a third of students in public schools passed the new tests, officials reported. And, in a twist that could roil education policy, some highly touted charter schools flopped particularly badly

Just 23 percent of charter students scored proficient in language arts, compared with 31 percent in public schools overall. That’s a greater gap than had shown up in last year’s exams.
In math, charter schools beat the public school average in each of the past two years — but not this year. On the new tests, just 31 percent of charter students scored proficient, the same as in public schools overall.

Results were mixed at some of New York City’s most highly touted charter schools, often acclaimed as “miracle” schools because in years past, so many of their mostly poor and minority students aced the state’s proficiency tests.

Interestingly, one group of charters did fantastically well (and I have to wonder about these scores):

The flourishing Success Academies network of charter schools continued to post outstanding results on the new exams, especially in math. In one of its schools in the Bronx, for instance, an astonishing 90 percent of third graders passed the math test, and 68 percent passed language arts. Both results far exceeded the citywide average of a 33 percent pass rate for math and 28 percent for language arts.
And, it's not just New York; Kentucky is reporting the same results.  

Final word from NY Times:

“For educators and parents who aren’t crazy about testing to begin with, one can understand why they feel like they’re being subjected to bait-and-switch,” said Frederick M. Hess, an education policy scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.


RosieReader said…
I've never minded some testing. I think it's inevitable, and I'm no worse for years of Iowa testing, right? And mostly I've stayed away from the fights around MAP, etc., finding value for my own kids when I can, and ignoring the results when they contradict what my own eyes and ears show me. But this cuts through even my detachment and/or ironic skepticism about the whole issue. Can we stop this nonsense, please? Or at the very least, stop experimeinting with such large sample sizes? Work out the kinks for 3-6 years in a couple of places, then go for broad implementation. We've obviously failed using the "learn as you go" model.
RR, as well, Iowa was a pittance in cost as compared to what we are doing today. That no other first world country does to its students.
Anonymous said…
The problem isn't with the children, it is with the adults who allowed this nonsense to go on. The Common Core was never field tested anyway so they have no idea if the standards are really appropriate. The tests on the other hand, they knew that they were too difficult and they still approved them.

Parents should be fuming at this abuse of their children. Taxpayers should be irate at this waste of public investment on "assessments".

Anonymous said…
Looking at the sample questions for 4th graders (on the New York City link, page 4), I'm not surprised so many kids are failing. My oldest was in fourth grade last year, and she would have had a hard time - they haven't got to dividing thousands yet, even by single digit numbers (although maybe that's our crappy math curriculum), and the essay question is pretty deep for the average 9-10 year old - not a lot of kids that age are up for writing about "how relationships develop."

When does this take effect here in WA?

Mom of 4
Mom, I am going to check where we are in WA.

My understanding is:

- we have signed on
- we are creating the assessments now (but how soon they go out, I don't know)
- we are not part of Gates' inBloom student data system (but wait for it). But it still doesn't matter; we need a law for parents to be able to opt out of data sharing or we have our district pass a policy about data sharing in this brave new world
Anonymous said…
Starting in 2014-15, WA State will switch to new Common Core aligned assessments. WA State is part of the Smarter Balanced Consortium for testing, which I believe is different from the Pearson tests used in NY. From reports in NY, the testing was long - 3 days per test - and kids were actually brought to tears taking it. It makes MAP seem not so bad...

I am thankful my kids can take the EOCs before the switch happens.

Anonymous said…
Mom of 4 and Melissa,

This might be helpful to you

WA OSPI - Feb 2013 Where We Stand

Anonymous said…
Arnie Duncan wouldn't know a baseline if it hit him across the face. What a fool and a fraud, experimenting on children. Makes me sick.

Unknown said…
I have great concern about the effect of common core on students with disabilities. I have asked what the district is doing to prepare teachers for teaching common core to students with disabilities and I was told it was covered. I have no idea what that response means and I have the feeling it means that there is a vague perception of something over the horizon that will need to be dealt with at some point.

I feel that common core is just another area where students with disabilities will fall behind--and not just because they have disabilities--but because teachers of students with disabilities will not be trained on how to teach the new material to students, will not be supplied with the materials to do so and will not know how the new tests can be adapted to students with disabilities. This of course, is in addition to the fact that much of the new tests may be more difficult.

It's just another area where the opportunity gap will widen.
Anonymous said…
WA will start administering the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium tests in 2014-15 in grades 3-8 and 11 in English/language arts and math. These tests will replace the MSP and the HSPE/EOCs for state and federal accountability purposes.

The HSPE and EOCs will also be available for high school graduation purposes through the graduating class of 2018. The graduating class of 2019 will be the first who must pass the Smarter Balanced 11th grade ELA and math tests in order to graduate. All of the alternative assessments will remain in place.

Smarter Balanced pilot tested this past spring in WA and all other Smarter Balanced states. Field testing will occur spring of 2014.

--- dressed in asbestos
Anonymous said…
Yesterday on NPR they had a report on Common Core. One of the math teachers who helped develop it, they said was from Seattle. They talked about how they would teach math now. Something about going from a mile wide and an inch deep to more in depth math.

Anonymous said…
His name is DOUG SOVDE and he worked in the Bellevue School District.

Linh-Co said…
The phrase "a mile wide and an inch deep" has been used for over 20 years to support discovery math. It obviously has not helped our students learn math.

In order to teach math successfully, there needs to be a balance of both procedural computational fluency and conceptual understanding. Common Core will not deliver this because the professional development given are focused on the fuzzy "standards practice" and not content.
TechyMom said…
There's another way to look at these scores. I don't know if this is right, but it's worth considering...

What if the common core actually describes what we want our kids to know? And what if these tests accurately measure whether they know it? Two big ifs, I get that. But, if those things were true, what would these scores mean?

They'd mean that we, the adults, are badly failing our kids. That we have systemic problems that are far too widespread to be explained by "teachers aren't working hard enough."

I think our systemic problem is that we (a lot of the country anyway) is trying to create a cheaped out system where every teacher has to be a superstar to even do an adequate job, and where only people with a separate source of income can afford to teach. That's just nuts.

Instead, we should be working to build a system where an average person with the right training can be a teacher can do a good job. Note that I said average and good, not outstanding, innovative, hair-on-fire or anything else like that. Those kinds of adjectives may make sense in the startup tech world, which employs a very small number of people recruited from the entire world and concentrated in a few locations. They don't make sense for education, which requires lots and lots of employees spread across every neighborhood in the world.

I'd like to see a system where an average teacher can do a good job, and can do it for 30 or 40 years, having a fulfilling career, a fulfilling personal life and a living wage.

What does such a system look like? I'm not really qualified to design it, but I'm betting in involves smaller classes or lower ratios, better and more varied books, and some sort of technology to support differentiation. Oh, and bathroom breaks, more time for planning, and an hour long lunch away from their desks for both students and teachers.

Techy Mom, good points (and they speak to - in a different fashion - to what Arne Duncan is saying about accountability).

But the problem for me is that there is so much being thrown at the system - just in SPS alone - how will we every accurately know what works? If we are being data-conscious but using multiple approaches, how do we know which one is best?

Anonymous said…
What if the common core actually describes what we want our kids to know?

If you read the Common Core ELA standards, they are more a set a skills, rather than content. The schools need to provide the content upon which the skills are built. So adopting the Common Core, without having a defined sequence of core knowledge, may just lead to spinning wheels and little gain.

WA state bettered their math standards with the 2008 adoption, so I'm not sure Common Core will be an improvement. It just seems like it will lead to some gaps for those in the transition years as topics are covered in a different sequence. If Seattle does not purchase improved math texts, I'm not sure how adopting Common Core will lead to any improvements.

Samples from New York State:

Common Core Sample Questions

Mamabird said…
@dressed in asbestos - THANKS for laying out the high school exam/requirements. I was worried about how it would affect my daughter - who will be in 11th grade in 14/15 school year. Really relieved to know that she won't have to pass this test to graduate - especially SO late in the game.

Franklin HS Mama
Anonymous said…
Wouldn't it be great if we designed a test system that everyone failed? It would be highly equitable. Everyone would get to experience failure. And, lots of people would get to profit from the manufactured crisis. Sounds like we are almost there!

Parent, what a clear way to say it. Thanks.
Anonymous said…
The NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards), recently completed national science standards, was presented to the legislature in April 2013. Here is the WA OSPI presentation slidedeck regarding adoption, etc.:

Next Generation Science Standards Work Session


Maureen said…
So what is happening is that the new bench mark is very low. Schools will find it easier to show progress every year for a long time. This small town superintendent from NY says that the test companies set the baseline low on purpose.

If you look at the distribution of scores, you see exactly the same distances as any other test. The only difference is that the distribution has been manipulated to be 30 to 40 percent lower for everybody. This serves an enormously powerful purpose. If you establish a baseline this low, the subsequent growth over the next few years will indicate that your plans for elevating the outcomes were necessary.

I used to tell our assistant principal that it's too bad we didn't administer our first WASL to all 500 kids at once packed in the gym with loud music blaring and then, over the years, let more and more of them go to quiet classrooms to take it. Just think of the "growth" we could have produced!
Anonymous said…
A Long Island, NY superintendent had some poignant things to say about the recent Common Core assessment results(click links on page to read pdfs of letters to parents and legislators)

"In response to the release of the test scores by State, Ed., I have sent a letter to our NY State legislators - Senators LaValle and Flanagan, and Assemblyman Englebright. The second letter below is to you, our parents and guardians. I'm posting it here and it will also be included in the mailing with your child's test scores. I'll be talking to you further about all this. I wanted to get something out to as soon as possible after ther release."

Comsequgue School District - Release of Test Scores

GMG, those deserve a thread. This is getting bigger and bigger and I wish we had a Board and/or Superintendent who would stand up for our kids and our schools.

At the very least, they need to get a policy passed that will protect student data. We cannot have our Board give away student data freely.
Unknown said…
Great letters from this superintendent, Joseph Rella. He showed tremendous courage in being this transparent in his response to both parents and legislators.
Anonymous said…
Arthur Getzel: Small Lies, Big Lies, and School Statistics

"This, my friends, is what [NY State Education] Commissioner King and his cohorts in the state decided to do. They, and their supporters, have created a construct--a construct with a political purpose. Before they can destroy public education, they have to prove that it is a failure. All we have to do is not teach students a new curriculum and invent a grading system knowing most of the questions will be so challenging that only 30% could possibly answer the requisite number of questions that they deem to represent a passing grade."

mirmac1 said…
Rella is my hero!

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