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November 16, 2012
Potential Achievement Dips with Common Core Assessments
Kentucky has worn the mantle of a hard-charging leader and supporter of the Common Core State Standards for some time now, but recently they have also taken on a new title: "guinea pig." Kentucky was the first state, in the spring of 2012, to administer statewide summative assessments that were fully aligned to the Common Core State Standards. A recent article in Education Week outlined the test results from these new assessments in Kentucky, which ranged from 48 percent of elementary students achieving proficiency on the more rigorous reading tests to 40.4 percent on the math portion. Although these pass rates showed a significant drop from the year before (76 percent for reading and 73 percent for math in 2010–11) the fact that the new assessments are much more rigorous and actually aligned to college and career readiness is the key difference.
As outlined on page 39 of ASCD's recent report, "Fulfilling the Promise of the Common Core State Standards: Moving from Adoption to Implementation to Sustainability," the estimated pass rates on the coming common assessments would range between 30 and 40 percent, depending on the grade and subject. Students are not achieving at lower levels (in all likelihood, students are actually achieving at much higher levels), but the standard which we are expecting them to meet is dramatically higher and aligned to college and career readiness.
Although Kentucky was the first state to assess students with tests fully aligned to the standards, there are others coming down the pike. North Carolina will be implementing their new assessments this spring, and many other states have begun to insert Common Core–aligned questions into their assessments. These developments, coupled with the 2014–15 timeline for the PARCC and SBAC assessments, will have many stakeholders wondering if the public outcry over "dipping achievement" can be withstood or if running for cover through low expectations is the smart move. Difficult conversations will take place within the education community and in individual states, but we should focus on the fact that we are finally building a K–12 system aligned to college and career readiness, and that this transition will take time. Rest assured that with high-quality instruction that meets the instructional shifts inherent within the Common Core State Standards and appropriate and timely interventions, the current cohorts of students can rise up and attain these levels, and they will also pave the way for future cohorts.
Tackling the Common Core
In a recent blog post on ASCD EDge™, Robert Zywicki (ASCD Emerging Leader Class of 2012) outlines how he worked to begin implementing the Common Core State Standards. Although Zywicki's blog describes his efforts with a social studies department at one of his high schools, the strategies can be applied across any content area. You can follow him on twitter at @ZywickiR.
PARCC Finalizes Definition of College Readiness
PARCC has approved a set of descriptors for their assessments that outline the different levels of achievement related to college readiness. These descriptors will specify which level a student has to achieve to be considered "college-ready." The group also pointed out that these descriptors focus on the "academic component" and acknowledged that there are many other components that contribute to a student being "college-ready."
Upcoming CCSS Webinars from ASCD
Learning from the Experts: A Discussion of Effective Teaching Practices
Currently, there are many major initiatives being implemented at the local level. From the Common Core State Standards to new educator effectiveness legislation, many reforms are occurring across the nation. Ultimately, the ability of each classroom teacher to deliver high-quality instruction will be the essential element that helps students achieve college and career readiness.
How do you ensure teachers are effective in the classroom? Given the amount of reforms, how do you avoid getting bogged down in observations and data so you can make meaning from what you've observed?
Join authors Robert J. Marzano and James Stronge for a special 90-minute presentation that answers these and other questions. Audience questions will be answered by the authors live during the session.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012, at 3:00 p.m. ET
"We knew the scores were going to drop, but this is the right thing for the kids, our schools."
—Terry Holliday, Kentucky education commissioner, "Scores Drop on Ky.'s Common Core-Aligned Tests"
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