New York City’s chief academic officer–a testing zealot–here announces that scores will plummet on the new Common Core tests administered last spring for the first time. They will plummet because the state decided to align its standards to NAEP, which are far more demanding than those of any state.

Over the years, many researchers have maintained that the NAEP achievement levels are “fundamentally flawed” and “unreasonably high.” If you google the terms NAEP and “fundamentally flawed,” you will find many articles criticizing the NAEP benchmarks. Here is a good summary.

What you need to know about NAEP achievement levels is that they are not benchmarked to international standards. They are based on the judgment calls of panels made up of people from different walks of life who decide what students in fourth grade and eighth grade should know and be able to do. It is called “the modified Angoff method” and is very controversial among scholars and psychometricians.

Setting the bar so high is one thing when assessing samples at a state and national level, but quite another when it becomes the basis for judging individual students. It is scientism run amok. It is unethical. It sets the bar where only 30-35% can clear it. Why would we do this to the nation’s children?

Nonetheless, these “unreasonably high” standards are now the guidelines for judging the students of Néw York.

Consequently, teachers and parents can expect to be stunned when the scores are released.

The good news is that teachers and schools will not be punished this year. The punishments start next year.

Here is the letter that went to all public schools with grades 3-8 in Néw York City:

From: Suransky Shael
Sent: Monday, August 05, 2013 1:54 PM
Subject: 2013 State Common Core Test Results

Dear Colleagues,

I’m writing to let you know that your school’s performance data on the 2013 State Common Core tests is now available for you to view. It is important to note that this data is embargoed by the State Education Department (SED)—you are not to share this information until Wednesday, after citywide data is released and the embargo is lifted.

As you review this information and prepare to share it with your school community, please keep in mind the context in which students took these new tests.

At its heart, our ongoing transition to the Common Core standards is about equal opportunity. It is about giving all students a fair chance to develop the skills they will need to pursue higher education and a quality job and have options that will lead to successful and happy lives.

As you know best, this shift is not easy, and so we are also making sure it is not punitive. These results will not be used to evaluate teachers this year, and students and schools will not be punished. The new tests are about developing a realistic understanding of where students are on the path to college and career readiness and adjusting support to improve students’ performance. Educators across the City are investing remarkable energy in this work; from this new baseline, we expect performance to increase.

SED has said the results will be similar to the City’s scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which also measures being on track for college and career readiness—for the City, similar scores would mean proficiency rates around 25-30 percent. Scores for individual student populations could be lower. These numbers might be familiar—in addition to our NAEP scores, the City’s College Readiness Index is also in this range—but seeing these results may still be jarring at first for you, your school community, and the public.

To access your school’s embargoed results now, you may view the State’s verification reports in L2RPT. After the public release, your school’s results will also be made available through the DOE public website, ATS, ARIS, and ARIS Parent Link; see below for a general timeline of when test results are expected in each system. If you need support accessing your school’s results, contact your network data support liaison.

Data System
Expected Timeline
August 5
DOE public website
August 7 (school-level results only)
Mid-August, within 1 week of State release
ARIS; ARIS Parent Link
Late August, within 3 weeks of State release
Item Skills Analysis reports (available in ARIS private communities)
Note: reports will be available according to tested year and current year enrollment; a version based on early October enrollment will be available in October.

The coming days and weeks will be challenging as we work together to explain these results to students, teachers, families, and the public. We will be providing materials and additional information in Principals’ Weekly to make sure you understand and feel comfortable discussing these results and the work ahead. And we will reiterate, time and time again, that students will not be penalized by these new tests and that they can—with hard work and support from their teachers, principal, and family—reach this new, higher expectation.

Ultimately, no one will be pleased by a measure that is expected to show fewer than 30 percent of students are on track for success after high school. But I deeply believe that this change—and the more accurate understanding that will result—is part of a transition that will benefit thousands of students for years to come, and I thank you for your leadership in supporting your school community through this time.



To: Principals of schools with grades 3-8
Cc: All cluster leaders; all network leaders; all superintendents