Mobile County Schools report a substantial drop in their student’s test scores. Of course the “rigor” of the new standards is to blame according to school officials.
Karen Mohr, acting chief academic officer for the school system, sent a letter to all principals advising them on how to handle the test scores.
“After careful review of the first quarter Language Arts and Math EQT (end of quarter test) results, the Chief Academic Officer of the Mobile County Public Schools has determined that scores are substantially lower and will negatively impact the first quarter averages for students,” the letter said.
“This decision only addresses first quarter scores,” the letter said. “In subsequent quarters, EQT scores will be handled according to the usual system guidelines.”
If a student’s test score improved his average, it was OK to use it, the letter said. But if adding the score lowered the student’s first quarter average, the test score should not be counted.
“We wanted to make sure we gave students the benefit of the doubt,” Mohr said. “We’re going to do whatever we can to be as fair as possible to our students.”
Mohr explained that the drop in test scores came about because of new standards implemented this fall. “Our curriculum is based on the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards,” she said, “and they’re more rigorous than in the past. With the change, we’re in a transition right now.”
The College and Career Ready Standards are also known as the Common Core, the education standards in math and English that were adopted by the state board of education in 2010.
Could Common Core advocates possibly be open to the possibility that test scores are dropping because of the way math is being taught? Perhaps students are confused? Perhaps they are frustrated? I understand that transitions to new ways of doing things can impact test scores, but it’s simply too easy to excuse the drops as a result of the “rigor” of the standards when another explanation could be is that they are convoluted and lack common sense when translated at the classroom level.