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Topic: KY Results Mixed on Common-Core-Aligned Tests
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
KY Results Mixed on Common-Core-Aligned Tests
Posted: Oct 15, 2013 5:10 PM
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From Education Week [American Education's Newspaper of Record],
Wednesday, October 9, 2013, Volume 33, Issue 07, p. 12. See
Ky. Results Mixed on Common-Core-Aligned Tests

Second year's scores a blend of dips, gains

By Andrew Ujifusa

Results in Kentucky from a second year of assessments aligned to the
Common Core State Standards reveal improvement for many groups of
students, but some scores remained flat or dipped on the
English/language arts and mathematics exams intended to assess
college and career readiness.

Middle and high school students showed progress on the Kentucky
Performance Rating for Education Progress (K-PREP) reading tests for
the 2012-13 school year. But high school performance in math dropped,
and various achievement gaps among racial groups also persisted in
the scores released by the state last month.

The changing nature of tests as they are aligned to the common core
can be highly controversial. There was concern and criticism in New
York this past summer, for example, when such new tests administered
in the 2012-13 school year produced markedly lower scores.

Critics say the new test results will harm schools, teachers, and
students. But the revamped tests' defenders argue that the new test
results are more accurate depictions of students' knowledge and

The concern "is they did not go up fast enough," Kentucky
Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday said during a Sept. 26 press
conference when he discussed the

Proficiency Ups and Downs

The new common-core-aligned tests were first given in the 2011-12
school year, replacing the previous Commonwealth Accountability
Testing System (CATS), and scores on those first K-PREP tests plunged
dramatically that year. For example, reading proficiency among
elementary school students dropped by 28 percentage points from
2010-11 levels, down to 48 percent of students scoring at proficient

Such drops weren't repeated on the 2012-13 school year tests. At
several levels, there were improvements. [See ]

Reading proficiency rose for both middle school students (from 46.8
percent to 51.1 percent) and high school students (from 52.2 percent
to 55.8 percent), while math proficiency for elementary school
students also rose by 3.5 percentage points, up to 43.9 percent.

Students receiving free and reduced-price meals in both middle and
high schools showed improvement,while black students in elementary
school math and middle school reading improved by nearly 3 and 4
percentage points, respectively.

But high school math scores dipped by 4 percentage points, to 36
percent proficient, while reading scores for all elementary school
students remained flat.

In addition, key achievement gaps showed no signs of shrinking. The
performance gap between black elementary school students and their
white counterparts in math crept up, from 20.7 percentage points to
21.4 percentage points, for example, and the black-white gaps in math
for both middle and high schools also grew by small amounts.

Most subgroups of students missed their performance targets on the
tests, including low-income students, black students, and
English-language learners. (These are aspirational goals set by the
state, but not used for accountability purposes.) Asian middle school
students were the only group to hit their aspirational target on the
reading test.

Mr. Holliday said that the decrease in the high school math scores in
particular could be attributed to the increase in the number of
test-takers from about 40,600 in the 2011-12 school year to about
44,100 in 2012-13; he argued such an increase typically leads to
lower test results.

Meanwhile, scores on the ACT in math for high school students
increased from 2011-12 to 2012-13, he noted, showing that a greater
proportion of students were demonstrating college- and
career-readiness in that area. (The math score for the state's public
school juniors went from 18.8 to 18.9 over the past year, but since
2007-08, the department said, the score has gone up by 0.8 points.)

The score gains are consistent with expectations as schools implement
the common core, said Chris Minnich, the executive director of the
Council of Chief State School Officers, which oversaw the development
of the standards along with the National Governors Association.

"We wouldn't expect the adjustment to higher standards to take place
in one year. So the good news is that the trend is in the right
direction," he said.

Warning Signs Seen

But others saw more ominous signs. While it's too soon to draw broad
conclusions, the results, in particular those that reveal a
persistent achievement gap over the first two years of testing with
the standards, "don't offer the kind of encouragement that a lot of
people wanted to see," said Richard Innes, an education policy
analyst at the Bluegrass Institute, a right-leaning think tank in
Lexington, Ky.

"We're leaving far too many kids-whites and blacks-with an inadequate
education," he said.
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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