States, superintendents nervous about Common Core pass rates

states-testsA new study highlights an interesting trend happening in states across the country: backtracking on Common Core State Standards (CCSS). States say issues with development, as well as worries about students’ pass rates, are making implementing Common Core tests difficult.

The report “Year 3 of Implementing the Common Core State Standards: States Prepare for the Common Core Assessments,” is based on a survey of state deputy superintendents in 40 of the 46 states that have adopted the CCSS in math or English/language arts or both subjects, and was conducted by the Center on Education Policy (CEP).

Though CEP Executive Director Maria Ferguson explained that “most of the states we surveyed have positive feelings about the new and unique features of the consortia-developed assessments,” about a quarter of the states surveyed are not currently changing their tests to better align them with the new Common Core Standards.

CCSS assessments have been developed by two major consortia—the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium—and, so far, superintendents in 30 states say these tests will “do a better job of measuring higher-order analytical and performance skills than their current state tests.”

However, 17 survey states are considering using other Common Core-aligned assessments in addition to, or instead of, PARCC or Smarter Balanced tests, including three states that do not belong to either consortia and 14 that were members of one or both consortia at the time of the survey.

(Next page: States say pass rates causing worry)

“Anticipating that student passing rates may decline on tests aligned to the Common Core, which are widely perceived as more rigorous than most current state standards, 19 survey states have begun working with districts and schools to provide both extra assistance for students who need help passing the tests and remediation for those student who fail the exams on the first try,” notes the report. “Also, 20 states report that they are starting to prepare teachers to interpret the results from consortia-developed assessments.”

“Many states are taking steps even before the CCSS tests are administered to prepare the public, parents, and students for fewer students passing the exams,” said Diane Stark Rentner, CEP’s deputy director and author of the report. “Clearly states are concerned about what lower pass rates may means for public support for the standards in the long run.”

The report also notes that many of the responding states say they face challenges with Common Core tests, including challenges in development, adoption, and implementation of news or revised tests; providing the technology and related support needed to administer the online consortia-developed assessments; and ensuring the state education agency has sufficient staffing, expertise, and funding to implement a CCSS-aligned testing system.

For more information on states and the backlash against Common Core, read “4 reasons why the Common Core Standards are losing popularity.

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