Comparing Common Core ELA test results in different states is like comparing apples, oranges, pears, tomatoes, kiwi, quince, cherries, raspberries. . .

One of the professed goals of the Common Core curriculum is that test results of students in one state, such as Georgia, can be compared to the test results of students in another state, say Connecticut.

table showing ELA test results in GA by grade

Click on table to enlarge it.

But the truth is, it can’t be done. Students all over the country took more than a dozen different tests this past spring. Fourteen states’ students took the same test, so their results can be compared. So can test results for students from another seven states who took the same tests. But then there are states like New York and Georgia which wrote their own tests. Student scores from those states can’t be compared to any other state’s student scores. And maybe that is the point, considering the horrible test results dribbling forth.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment System created a test used by 14 states, mostly in the western US: Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, West Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut.  Here are the results issued to date.

  • California has delayed the release of its test results until September 9, even though, by law, results should have been published in August. California has also removed from its Department of Education website data of past years’ test results in ELA and math, the two subjects tested with new tests this past spring, so that comparisons between the old and new test scores cannot easily be made. Insiders say the new test results are dismal. The state blames the delay on revealing specific results on the launch of a new web site to showcase the data. California says it wants to ensure that the test results are accurate.
  • New Hampshire will not release results until November, saying that since many students took the test with pencil and paper, not computer, it takes longer to score and record the results. New Hampshire has announced that its high school juniors will not take the Common Core test in the future, but will instead take an SAT exam.
  • Connecticut, which released its results at the end of August, shows that 55.4 percent of students in all grades passed the ELA test. About four percent of the state’s students boycotted the test.
  • In Missouri, 59.7 percent of students passed the ELA test; however, minorities and low income students scored 13% lower scores than the rest of the students. However, in June the state legislature banned future use of the test in Missouri.
  • In Oregon, 47 percent of third graders passed the ELA test.
  • West Virginia’s Department of Education said the majority of its students scored less than 50% on the tests, except for fifth graders who scored 51%. Third graders scored a 46% proficiency rate.
  • 48 to 61 percent of Idaho students passed the Idaho ELA test. Complete results will be out in October.
  • 53 to 62 percent of Washington State’s students passed the ELA test.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness and Careers created a different test used by seven states: Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Washington, D.C.’s students also used the test. No test results have been issued.

Twenty-three other states, including Georgia, made their own tests or decided to leave the Common Core.

  • In Georgia, 36 % of test takers passed the ELA tests written by Georgia.  On September 3, Georgia announced that of the third graders who took the ELA test, 36 percent passed. 26 percent did okay while 10 percent did better than okay. Almost 2/3 of students failed.
  • In New York, 31.3 percent of test takers passed the ELA tests written by that state. Ten percent of eligible students opted out of taking the tests, skewing the results. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a defender of the Common Core Standards, said today he is forming a commission to revamp education in NY.
  • Arizona inaugurated its own test this past spring, but results will not be announced until October.

And five states have not taken part in the Common Core: Texas, Nebraska, Virginia, Indiana and Alaska.

Was Georgia’s test harder than New York’s or West Virginia’s? No one knows. It was a lot harder than the Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) that was given in Georgia in past years, according to the state superintendent of education, Richard Woods. In a statement, he said, “Our previous assessment, the CRCT, set some of the lowest expectations for student proficiency in the nation, and that cannot continue. Georgia Milestones sets higher standards for our students and evens the playing field with the rest of the nation.”

We will have to take Mr. Woods’ word that the new Milestones test “evens the playing field with the rest of the nation” since the Georgia test was given only in Georgia, and like apples and raspberries, cannot be compared to test results in other states.

A breakdown of Georgia results will be released by the Georgia Department of Education in October, as will the results of many other states.

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