For those who don’t know or don’t pay close attention to notices from school it’s now time for the “BIG” Common Core testing again. Every spring the children in multiple grades spend weeks and weeks on practicing and taking the SBAc (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium). If you want to see the propaganda from the group that owns the testing here is a link: http://www.smarterbalanced.org/ This is a private group that profits from the testing. What do they claim it does and is good for?
Why is this testing used? Originally it, along with a sister test (PARCC) was supposed to be rolled out in every state. These tests were to give states a way to benchmark the performance of students and compare states. Basically it was intended to be a way for adults to talk about how well there were doing or to show that they need more money to perform better. Unfortunately these tests were never tested. There is no history of verification of the value of the score results. They created it and then sold (some say forced) it to/on states. The test results can’t be used to compare to any other tests and, after ~4 years in use, still can’t forecast student performance or outcomes. Oh…the same people who created the testing went on to help establish new curriculum that was needed to prepare the students for what they were to be tested on. Today, there are only a handful of states left using PARCC and the SBAc. This article: https://education-first.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Education-First-What-Happened-To-State-Tests-Feb-2018-1.pdf says that only 13 states are left using the tests and only a handful using the SBAc.
Washington State is one of those handful holding onto a failed program. What do the testing results look like? Here is a snapshot of results for 2017-18 (the most recent posted) from the State Superintendents Office. The link to the page is: http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/summary.aspx?groupLevel=District&schoolId=1&reportLevel=State&yrs=2017-18&year=2017-18 You can “drill down” to your local district by: (1) Select Organization on the upper left drop-down box (2) On the upper right you will see “Select a Year”. You can choose the year and then see the testing results. Let’s look at the State level as a working example:
What does this table show us?
- Students in 3rd; 4th; 5th; 6th; 7th; 8th and 10th grades were tested
- English and Math were tested in all grades
- Science was tested in 5th; 8th and 11th grades
- 3rd grade, state-wide, 55.5% passed the test and 44.5% failed for English. 42.5% of 3rd graders failed Math.
- Starting in 4th grade English test scores generally improved a tiny amount
- Starting in 4th grade Math test scores started taking a BIG drop
So this suggests that a large portion of the students are failing. Does that mean that the students are getting dumber or lazier or that teaching is getting worse or????
It tells us nothing. But wait…let’s go back to the previous year (2016-17) and compare the two most recent years. Will that tell us anything?
So looking a the 2016-17 information:
- Students in the same grades were tested (except high school)
- 3rd grades English test scores improved from 52.5% passing to 55.5% = +3 pts. But Math slipped from 57.8% to 57.5%
- 4th grade English went from 55.2% to 57.3% = 2.1 pt improvement. Math went from 57.8% to 53.8% = 4 pt decline
- 5th grade English went from 58.6% to 59.2% = +.6 pt improvement. Math went from 48.6% to 48.5% = .1 pt decline
- 6th grade English went from 55.5% passing to 55.9% = +.4 pt better. Math went from 48.2% to 48.2% or no change
- 7th grade English went from 60.1% to 59.6% = .5 pt worse. Math went from 49.9% passing to 49.0% or a .9 pt decline
- 8th grade English went from 58.5% to 58.9% = .4 pt improvement. Math went from 47.6% passing to 47.5% = .1 pt decline (which means 52.5% are FAILING)
- In 2016-17 the tested Juniors but switched to Sophomores in 2017-18 so we can’t use the results at all. If we did comment it would be that for 11th graders in Math nearly 75% failed in 2016-17 and in 2017-18 nearly 60% of 10th grades failed.
So what does any of this tell us? The testing has been in place for over 4 years so there has been plenty of time for students to have adjusted to the testing format. Either they haven’t adapted or they are doing worse. If they are doing worse than what of all the increased spending? Could it be that the testing is flawed since it was never pre-tested and validated?
We spend nearly 1 month on testing practice and testing…instead of using the time to teach and educate. We waste millions of dollars on testing. Nationally taxpayers have spent billions of dollars on new curriculum intended to do one thing…improve test scores by “teaching to the test”. There is no evidence that any of these billions of dollars has done anything of value.
The entire Common Core program was created by a private group that licenses the system to create a profit and they never did any development work or testing. It’s pure and simple a”for profit” scam benefiting the “consortium” and textbook companies with taxpayers left holding the bag.
There are costs:
- Wasted money
- Lost education time
- Student anxiety and fear about this big test that means they could be held back or punished if they don’t score well
- Parents wondering why their student appears to be failing more than passing
- Schools held hostage to getting 95% testing participation…or…they lose awards and recognition from OSPI
So what can you do?
- You can Opt-Out of the testing. What does that mean? You can write a letter or submit a form to your school principal telling them you don’t want to have your child participate in testing. Note: You may get some push-back. They may ask you to come in and sit down and talk with them so they can convince you that you are harming your child by not allowing them to be tested.
So would you like to get more information about how to Opt-Out in Southwest Washington State? Check this page: https://swweducation.org?page_id=679
Finally, we have over 200 articles about Common Core in case you want to dig even deeper: https://swweducation.org?cat=61