Do Low Scores Demonstrate Excellence?

The Arizona Daily Sun ran an editorial on Sunday calling for the state not to abandon “excellence” as a result of low test scores.

They summarized their view this way, “The Common Core represents a sea change in problem-solving and critical thinking that will take more time, teacher resources and community support to master.”

They then wrote:

The intervening years have dimmed the criticism somewhat as students, teachers and parents in early-adopter districts and states have adapted to solving math word problems and using critical thinking on texts instead of filling in multiple-guess answer sheets. The creators of the tests – top educators from all 50 states — predicted it would take five years or more for the sea change in teaching and learning to be reflected in majority pass rates, and that was about right in states like New York, Massachusetts, Kentucky and North Carolina.

Arizona is in its third year of the tests for its Common Core-like curriculum, and overall pass rates remain below 50 percent (see the results by school and grade for the Flagstaff area on Page A8). It has phased them in gradually with no high-stakes pressure: The tests are not needed for graduation, and only third-graders who score at the very bottom of the reading test risk being held back.

They also leveled criticism at Diane Douglas, Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction:

State Schools Superintendent Diane Douglas, who ran on a platform of ill-informed opposition to Common Core as something written by the feds (it wasn’t), reacted to the latest scores by criticizing the tests as unrealistic and recommending they be made optional. We’d be more willing to listen if she suggested something to take the place of Common Core and its tests, but since she hasn’t, it’s a good thing local education advocates stand poised to fill the state leadership vacuum.

This editorial presumes a few things. First, it presumes that Common Core represents “excellence” when there is absolutely no data to back that up. Second, it presumes the “sea change” in Massachusetts is the same as what they are trying to accomplish in Arizona. Massachusetts’ reform (I’m not sure what they are referring to with New York and North Carolina) was the result of a number of reforms, as well as, quality content standards. Common Core does not reflect that. Third, they presume that the state superintendent should call for a particular replacement. Didn’t a top-down approach get them into trouble in the first place?

When scores go down or remain stagnant does not demonstrate excellence. All they have to do is look at what is happening with ACT scores to see Common Core is not living up to its promises.

2 thoughts on “Do Low Scores Demonstrate Excellence?

  1. In addition, this means five years of children’s lives are to be used for guinea pig trials. (That is, if it only takes five years.) There is no way I would want any children to go through such testing and low scores over five years. And, please, don’t tell me the “experts” are so much smarter about testing and we should therefore trust them. Any good teacher knows when test scores are largely failing ones, either the test was poorly designed for the particular group or the teacher did a really lousy job of teaching. in this case, I would bet on the structure of the test. This article is proof of arrogance and self-inflated superiority. It’s time to shoot down their ballooned egos.

  2. Arizona only has a three-year trend line with Common Core. Kentucky, the first state to adopt these troubled standards, has a considerably longer trend line to examine.

    Kentucky started Common Core-aligned testing in the 2011-12 school term, so its high school graduates in 2017 spent at least six years in Core-oriented classrooms.

    How is that working out for the Bluegrass State? Check these blogs from Kentucky: and Scores in the fifth year of consistent ACT testing (reporting standards were changed in 2013) are going flat and the achievement gaps remain essentially unchanged, too.

    And, the Kentucky Legislature passed a bill earlier this year that said its intent is to repeal Common Core.

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