Maryland, like just about every state, has seen disappointing results from their Common Core-aligned assessments. Almost sixty percent of Maryland students did not pass the PARCC assessment last year. So Maryland is kicking the can down the road.
The Baltimore Sun reported last week:
Sixth-graders this year will be the first Maryland students who must meet tougher passing standards on statewide high school English and math exams to graduate in 2024.
The new standard set by the state school board this week rolls back more aggressive requirements put in place about a year ago. Board members said they had little choice, given that about 60 percent of students are failing the tests.
“The challenge is to find the right balance between a target for high school graduation that is rightly ambitious … and a target that is frankly fantasy,” said school board member David Steiner.
Some educators, including Steiner, are worried that even once the new standard takes effect many of the state’s students will be unable to earn a diploma, or will use an alternative method to graduate.
“It is an aspirational standard at this point, and it is a heavy lift,” said Russell Brown, chief accountability officer for the Baltimore County school system, who welcomed the deadline’s delay.
Expecting students to be literate and understand math before they graduate shouldn’t be “an inspirational standard.” That said, using standardized assessments, like PARCC, is a horrible way to determine graduation.
Right now students can graduate if they score a three or better. Under PARCC, 4 is passing and 5 is “advanced.” The change will happen in 2024.
This is one particular issue I agree with teachers’ unions on. They oppose using standardized tests this way.
The Maryland State Education Association, a union representing the majority of the state’s teachers, doesn’t support such high-stakes testing as a bar for graduation.
“Educators strongly disagree with tying PARCC scores to graduation requirements,” said Betty Weller, the union’s president. “We know that a student’s PARCC score is not an accurate reflection of their educational experience or ability to contribute to society.”
She believes that the PARCC test is “an arbitrary standard that was set by a private testing company.”
Students are more than a test score.