Beware the Common Core tests | Arkansas Blog

Beware the Common Core tests

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CORE ISSUE: The acclaimed Harlem Village Academy charter school dropped from a 100 percent proficiency rate on 2012 testing to 21 percent on the test based on Common Core curriculum.
  • CORE ISSUE: The acclaimed Harlem Village Academy charter school dropped from a 100 percent proficiency rate on 2012 testing to 21 percent on the test based on Common Core curriculum.
Arkansas edged recently into a growing debate over Common Core education standards. For now, the Arkansas Education Department is committed to them. Opinions diverge (not always on customary school reform/establishment lines), though an emerging Tea Party-style resistance from the extreme right seems evident.

What most do agree on is that percentages of students scoring "proficient" on standardized tests will drop initially when Common Core testing begins because the test is harder.

Sure enough, New York city scores are in and they collapsed.

But wait, there's more, as chronicled by Gary Rubinstein of Teach for Us.


Various ‘reformers’ weighed in and tried to put a positive spin on it. Joel Klein, in an Op-Ed in the The New York Post wrote “While some may confuse lower scores as a negative development, the fact that we’re finally being honest about academic achievement is a very positive sign.” Arne Duncan said “Too many school systems lied to children, families and communities”

The ‘lies’ they are talking about are the ones that say that our education system is doing an OK job. It is very important to these ‘reformers’ that our schools are ‘failing’ so they can justify their radical approach to reform which is centered upon shutting down public schools, opening charters, and firing teachers based significantly on standardized test scores.

So I looked carefully at the data and found that these test scores do, in fact, prove there was some lying going on. But it is not the lie that that Klein and Duncan were talking about. The lie that these test scores reveal is the one about charter schools being better than public schools.

Charter school scores dropped more than regular public school scores in New York. Often by a lot. Some of the most highly touted charters — Harlem Village Academy and KIPP, to name two — were even worse.

Rubinstein plotted the scores on a scatter chart and highlighted the charter school outliers with exceptionally poor results.

just don’t see how the ‘reformers’ can reconcile these statistics with their statement that these lower scores are a good thing since we are now being honest about where we stand. The low scores in general do not decisively prove anything. The cutoff scores for passing were an arbitrary choice by some politicians in Albany. But the evidence that charters are certainly not working the miracles they claim is very clear from this data.

Now, remember that I don’t think that test scores capture all the good in a school. Perhaps these charter school have a lot of those intangibles that help kids eat grits or whatever. I don’t know. But I do know that if the ‘reformers’ really value their ‘data’ so much, they should really think about how to interpret the charter grade crash. To me, this suggests that maybe the hundreds of millions of dollars given to charters, both from the government and from private benefactors could be spent elsewhere in education more effectively.

It's a dirty secret that testing, old style and new, hasn't proved charter schools show a significant margin over other schools anywhere, including in Arkansas.

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