I have to applaud the spin over a federal report I just saw. A headline over at The 74 Million states: “Driven by Common Core Rigor, States Are Raising Proficiency Bar for Reading and Math, New Report Finds.”
Since news over Common Core has been bad, and NAEP scores have demonstrated that it has done nothing to raise student achievement I can understand why Common Core advocates want to grasp at anything resembling good news.
Kate Stringer wrote:
That’s according to a comparison of state proficiency standards released today by the National Center for Education Statistics that looks at 2015 data. But more states than ever, including Louisiana, are raising their standards closer to the proficiency bar set by the National Assessment of Educational Progress — commonly referred to as the Nation’s Report Card.
Over the past 15 years, NCES has been tracking how each state defines proficiency and comparing that to NAEP’s benchmark. NAEP is the only common national test taken by students in every state, and it is generally considered to have rigorous standards for defining proficiency (although some have argued that the standards are too high).
The reason for this move toward higher academic standards for reading and math comes from a national push over the past decade for common, rigorous standards, like the Common Core, Peggy Carr, associate commissioner for NCES, said during a call Wednesday with reporters.
States kept proficiency standards low because it made it seem like more students are proficient. Richard Phelps with Nonpartisan Education Review pointed out yesterday on Twitter why this really isn’t something to celebrate:
“Cut scores are set subjectively or, in the worst cases, arbitrarily. They do not necessarily have anything to do with test quality, rigor, or alignment. Moreover, tests can be more difficult precisely because they are of lower quality, e.g., poorly written, convoluted,” he tweeted.
Just because PARCC and Smarter Balanced raised their proficiency standards does not mean they are good assessments. There are serious validation concerns with both assessments.
All that raising proficiency standards has done is to demonstrate how much states were trying to pull the wool over parents’ and taxpayers’ eyes.