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Daily Dish: Common Core in the News Today – Proficiency, Test Scores & Core-Aligned Literacy Materials

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October 07, 2015 05:23 pm

Tests & Assessments

Today in Common Core news…

A The New York Times article discussed some of the issues with states determining their own definition of “proficient” on reading and math tests aligned to the Common Core. The article focuses on Ohio’s move to relabel the performance measurements on the recent Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. Under Ohio’s designation, students were labeled “proficient” even though they only “approached expectations”—a lower designation—according to PARCC. Such a move combats the purpose of the Common Core standards: to set uniform benchmarks for learning, so as to avoid each state setting its own standards, making tests easier, or lowering passing scores and making students “proficient” even if they aren’t college-ready.

As the article reports, with the first wave of many Common Core tests rolling out, education officials seem to be changing the definition of success to include more students. The piece quotes Karen Nussle, the executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success, who said: “This was exactly the problem that a lot of policy makers and educators were trying to solve…to get a more honest assessment of where kids are and being transparent about that with parents and educators so that we could do something about it.” Echoing these sentiments was Marc S. Tucker, the president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, who said: “That mentality of saying let’s set proficient at a level where not too many people fail is going to kill us…the global standard of what proficient is keeps moving up.”

In a new Core of the Matter piece, Alliance Senior Fellow Robert Rothman breaks down the recent wave of new Common Core test results, which measure students’ performance against the standards for college and career readiness. Rothman notes that many of the results were lower, as expected, since the new assessments represent a more accurate picture of student achievement, but that these outcomes should not be compared to previous scores. He cautions that “the scores show that states, districts, and schools have work to do to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready for college and careers.”

California–the largest state to adopt the Common Core—is making a big change and adopting a new set of Common Core aligned K-8 English/language arts instructional materials for the first time since the standards were implemented. Thomas Adams, the director of California’s curriculum and instructional-resources division and the head of California’s Instructional Quality Commission, tells Education Week that the new materials are designed to address the needs of English-language learners, which represent a quarter of California’s students, by requiring that English-learners receive instruction on grade-level English/language arts content while simultaneously improving their language skills. The articles notes that prior to these instructional resources, students worked on language before grade-level content. “What this adoption does is really put in place the gold standard for combining ELA and ELD [English-language development],” Adams said. “There isn’t anything out there that even comes close to what these materials are doing…I think California districts will embrace these materials enthusiastically.”


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