For months, school officials in many states have warned parents to expect proficiency rates on Common Core-aligned tests to plummet.
They have warned that the proportion of students rated proficient was likely to drop by as much as 30%.
When this happens, it will make public education in America look just as bad as the corporate reformers have been claiming.
When New York administered the first Common Core tests last spring, a copy of one fifth grade test was leaked to a Daily News reporter. She sent it to me and I studied it and concluded that the test questions were similar in difficulty to what was typically seen on an eighth grade NAEP test. I went to the NAEP website, looked at the released items and questions, and ranked the fifth grade test as “difficult” for an eighth grader.
Here is a report that I just received from the testing coordinator of a high-performing school in one of the best districts in New York:
“Just to let you know that because I am my school’s test coordinator I just looked at the scores for the ELA. We are a “high achieving” school. Last year only 5 students in grades 3, 4 and 5 got a level 1. Now it is 32. Approximately 40% of our students scored levels 3 and 4 this year down from about 80% last year. What does this mean? Nothing because a test that measures skills that could not possibly be taught and is developmentally too hard is INVALID.”
So why the rush to make the tests so hard that more students will fail?
Rick Hess wrote last fall that many of the “reformers” believe that the terrible results (eagerly anticipated by them) will cause suburban parents to demand “reforms” and an escape from their neighborhood schools.
I can’t help but recall that David Coleman, the architect of the Common Core standards, was the treasurer of the board of Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst in its first year. If the Common Core tests produce a collapse of proficiency rates, then it makes Rhee and her attacks on public schools look good. Will everyone run for the exits and demand charters and vouchers?
Sick thought, but inescapable.