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The California Department of Education on Friday began restoring historical test data that it deleted from the most accessible part of its website earlier this month, following criticism that it did so to discourage the public from making comparisons to the results of new tests aligned to the Common Core standards.

The department plans to release scores from the new tests, known as Smarter Balanced, on Sept. 9.

The department’s decision came two days after EdSource first reported that the department took down 15 years of math and English language arts scores from the database of the Standardized Testing and Reporting program, known as STAR, which enabled the public to search results by district, school and student subgroups from grades 3 through 12. The information  was located on the department’s DataQuest website.

The move received harsh criticism, with some saying that the department overreacted and mistrusted the public with the data. In a statement Friday, Bill Ainsworth, the education department’s communications director, issued the following statement:

“Earlier this month, the California Department of Education moved results from the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program in math and English language arts from the location on our website where we plan to put up results from the new California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP, while continuing to make that information available in research files and in another section of our website, EdData.

“We sought to provide clear and relevant information to the public, highlight CAASPP results, and maintain our strong commitment to transparency. Unfortunately, this action was misperceived by some and may have caused confusion. As a result, we are restoring STAR test results to their previous location on our website.”

Department  officials and many others have cautioned that comparing results from the two sets of tests would be inappropriate and inaccurate because the academic standards have changed, with the adoption of the Common Core, and the new online assessments are very different. Officials initially cited a state law forbidding state agencies and local districts from making test comparisons in justifying the removal of the data. Ainsworth acknowledged that interpretation was inaccurate; the law did not apply to publicly posting information.

By Friday evening, the department had restored data from 2007 to 2013, the last year that the California Standards Tests in English language arts and math were given. Ainsworth said that the department will repost the remaining information in the next few days.

For background information and the previous story, go here.

 


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  1. Gary Ravani 9 months ago9 months ago

    Trusting “the public,” aka, schools suck industry, pundits, hostile politicians, editorialists, and general run of cynics and hysterics to do the right thing re test scores after over a decade of none of those folks doing the right thing by tests scores seems like a stretch to me.

    On the other hand, perhaps the Bard knew something when he wrote “Much Ado About Nothing.”

    Replies

    • navigio 9 months ago9 months ago

      Well, the best way to expose misuse is to encourage transparency and understanding. This is especially true given how revisionist public commentary is. Hiding things only perpetuates the impression that there is something worth hiding. Especially now that the whole world is apparently on the schools suck bandwagon.

  2. Don 9 months ago9 months ago

    Chalk up a victory for transparency and freedom of information even if it rings hollow here in San Francisco. How many people actually make the small investment in time to peruse the test score data and ascertain the facts about their districts? Take SFUSD's horrendous minority subgroup test scores, among the worst in the state despite proclamations form SFUSD PR machine and its right arm, the SF Chronicle, that paints us as leader. Ed Source helped … Read More

    Chalk up a victory for transparency and freedom of information even if it rings hollow here in San Francisco.

    How many people actually make the small investment in time to peruse the test score data and ascertain the facts about their districts? Take SFUSD’s horrendous minority subgroup test scores, among the worst in the state despite proclamations form SFUSD PR machine and its right arm, the SF Chronicle, that paints us as leader.

    Ed Source helped to win one for the Gipper, but will it now use this supposedly prized data bank to inform its readership? We get all manner of stories from Ed Source about the wonders of Common Core, restorative discipline practices, graduation requirements, data deletions, the latest state bill and every conceivable equity-related issue, but when, I ask you, do we get reports on student achievement? Only when the test scores come out.

  3. Jennifer Bestor 9 months ago9 months ago

    Please add my kudos to John. Getting the data back on line is crucial for a transparent, responsive school system. It will be fascinating to see whether Common Core tests behave over time like STAR test results did -- and where the two diverge dramatically. Meanwhile, the situation certainly reinforced how thin the veneer of "Local Control" is. Whether it's local reserves or historic test information, somehow parents, voters and school … Read More

    Please add my kudos to John. Getting the data back on line is crucial for a transparent, responsive school system. It will be fascinating to see whether Common Core tests behave over time like STAR test results did — and where the two diverge dramatically.

    Meanwhile, the situation certainly reinforced how thin the veneer of “Local Control” is. Whether it’s local reserves or historic test information, somehow parents, voters and school boards aren’t actually trusted to ask the right questions and do the right thing. They were the great losers by that move.

    (Note also that the new Ed-Data website only shows the last five years of financial data … cleverly choosing the depths of the cutbacks as a starting point. This allows CDE and the Legislature to portray themselves as great builders of education funding, rather than reluctant restorers. Sigh.)

    In light of the most recent move, I have begun to believe a CDE staffer who told me that “Local Control” was only chosen because it polled much better than “Weighted Student Formula.” Parent engagement only means something if parents can question and compare.

  4. Doug McRae 9 months ago9 months ago

    It is good that CDE responded via their actions that it was a mistake to remove easy access to prior year STAR data from their website, data that can and should appropriately be used to provide context for the new Smarter Balanced results to be posted in the near future. Now, if CDE can respond to their mistake not to extend or rebid the vendor contract for the HS exit exam and instead canceling the … Read More

    It is good that CDE responded via their actions that it was a mistake to remove easy access to prior year STAR data from their website, data that can and should appropriately be used to provide context for the new Smarter Balanced results to be posted in the near future. Now, if CDE can respond to their mistake not to extend or rebid the vendor contract for the HS exit exam and instead canceling the July administration of CAHSEE [note the CDE/SSPI are doubling down on their "get rid of CAHSEE" initiative by sponsoring an amendment for SB 172 to retroactively wipe out the CAHSEE minimum achievement standard for a CA high school diploma for 2006-2014 as well as suspend it for the next 3 years, to advance their prospects for permanently getting rid of any statewide minimum achievement standard via an exit exam for future years, per another EdSource post yesterday afternoon], as well as respond to the lack of transparency for the delayed release of statewide 2015 CAASPP scores and delayed provision of spring 2015 individual student score reports for parents and students, and respond to the total lack of required validity reliability fairness documentation needed for credibility of 2015 Smarter Balanced scores, then the CDE/SSPI might begin to restore their credibility for statewide assessment and accountability issues. Addressing the data access kerfaffal is pretty minor potatoes compared to these other major substantive issues.

    Replies

    • ann 9 months ago9 months ago

      …..retroactively wipe out the CAHSEE minimum achievement standard for a CA high school diploma for 2006-2014….

      Does this mean issuing retroactive diplomas to those who didn’t pass CAHSEE from 2006 forward?

      • Manuel 9 months ago9 months ago

        Yes... (Even though I find this particular test, which is based on 9th-grade English and 8th-grade math, to not be indicative of high school skills, I find it extremely silly that Carol Liu is pushing this now. Why didn't she fight against the requirement before? True, she was not in the Legislature when the CAHSEE was put into the EdCode, but she should have at least laid some groundwork to do something about it when it … Read More

        Yes…

        (Even though I find this particular test, which is based on 9th-grade English and 8th-grade math, to not be indicative of high school skills, I find it extremely silly that Carol Liu is pushing this now. Why didn’t she fight against the requirement before? True, she was not in the Legislature when the CAHSEE was put into the EdCode, but she should have at least laid some groundwork to do something about it when it sunsetted [or so says O’Connell].)

      • Don 9 months ago9 months ago

        Ann, the legal department at the CDE has to be wondering about their exposure. What legal rational can be employed to justify an exemption for this year's students but not former students in the same position? Is using different criteria for graduation, a CAHSEE requirement v. no CAHSEE requirement, a legally wise application of the constitutional principle of "equal educational opportunity"? Students in the class who passed all other requirements but failed the exit … Read More

        Ann, the legal department at the CDE has to be wondering about their exposure. What legal rational can be employed to justify an exemption for this year’s students but not former students in the same position? Is using different criteria for graduation, a CAHSEE requirement v. no CAHSEE requirement, a legally wise application of the constitutional principle of “equal educational opportunity”? Students in the class who passed all other requirements but failed the exit exam could sue the State. And if they do make it retroactive they could claim the same lack of opportunity for the period in which they were damaged. With a total retroactive exemption and districts free to award diplomas at their own discretion they are going to award them across the board for fear of litigation and let the State take the fall.

  5. navigio 9 months ago9 months ago

    Beautiful. Thanks EdSource.

    Replies

    • Manuel 9 months ago9 months ago

      Yes, thank you, John, for publishing that article and giving many people the opportunity to comment. I am sure that CDE got an earful (or an in-box-ful, take your pick) of comments through other channels. However, CDE still makes it hard: there is no link to the "old" results interface in their main "STAR" page: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sr/ Instead, there are links to state, district and school level pages in the "old" EdData site, which doesn't have the simple interface. … Read More

      Yes, thank you, John, for publishing that article and giving many people the opportunity to comment. I am sure that CDE got an earful (or an in-box-ful, take your pick) of comments through other channels.

      However, CDE still makes it hard: there is no link to the “old” results interface in their main “STAR” page:

      http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sr/

      Instead, there are links to state, district and school level pages in the “old” EdData site, which doesn’t have the simple interface. Here’s the link to state-level:

      https://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/App_Resx/EdDataClassic/fsTwoPanel.aspx?#!bottom=/_layouts/EdDataClassic/Accountability/PerformanceReports.asp?reportNumber=1&level=04&tab=3

      Finally, at the bottom of this page there is a link to the old interface:

      http://star.cde.ca.gov/

      where you can see that it is indeed a work in progress since there are no links to the 2002-2006 years. Nor are there links to 1998-2001 when the CSTs were in “testing” mode.

      Nevertheless, it is good that they have responded and done the right thing. Again, thank you, John, for being a facilitator.

  6. Paul Muench 9 months ago9 months ago

    Good on them! Glad they had the courage to fix that misstep.

    Replies

    • Don 9 months ago9 months ago

      Paul, that's a half-glass full interpretation of the about-face by the CDE. Look at the explanation for their action. "Unfortunately, this action was misperceived by some and may have caused confusion." Since when do agencies that are supposedly acting upon law not do so because the public might misinterpret their actions? What is that? I'll follow the law unless it upsets you in which case I won't follow the law? So now they say they misinterpreted the … Read More

      Paul, that’s a half-glass full interpretation of the about-face by the CDE.

      Look at the explanation for their action.

      “Unfortunately, this action was misperceived by some and may have caused confusion.”

      Since when do agencies that are supposedly acting upon law not do so because the public might misinterpret their actions? What is that? I’ll follow the law unless it upsets you in which case I won’t follow the law?

      So now they say they misinterpreted the law. OK, who in the legal department was responsible for this misinterpretation and what were the legal reasonings for the removal and the subsequent reinstatement?
      You’ll never know because it was a sham to begin with – phony, trumped-up excuse at damage control on the eve of the test result release.

      This whole affair is a giant embarrassment and exposes the caliber of the people who are the decision-makers in the CDE. Don’t expect any heads to roll, just plenty of eyes.

      • Don 9 months ago9 months ago

        Not only that, but the “misperception” was not on the part of some among the public, but on the part of whichever individual(s) at the CDE having acknowledged it admittedly misperceived the 2013 state law.

        • John Fensterwald 9 months ago9 months ago

          Don: I asked CDE on Monday for the citation in the law (I eventually got it elsewhere) and whether attorneys had reviewed the decision but did not receive answers to the questions.

          • navigio 9 months ago9 months ago

            My own layman's interpretation of their likely explanation is that the earlier version of 60641 explicitly required STAR results be published on the Internet by mid-August. In re-writing that section, this requirement was removed. Of course keeping them there once they are published is a different question than a requirement to publish them in the first place. I bet that's where 'interpretation' came in. So if their defense is 'show me where in Ed code … Read More

            My own layman’s interpretation of their likely explanation is that the earlier version of 60641 explicitly required STAR results be published on the Internet by mid-August. In re-writing that section, this requirement was removed. Of course keeping them there once they are published is a different question than a requirement to publish them in the first place. I bet that’s where ‘interpretation’ came in. So if their defense is ‘show me where in Ed code it says these star results should be online’, then that’s probably what happened.
            Btw, it’s no clear from that Ed code that there is a similarly explicit requirement for the new results. Is that maybe in a new section? (I’ll go reading…)

      • el 9 months ago9 months ago

        I hear what you’re saying, here, Don, but I have no problem letting people who screwed up save face in order to get a beneficial result. 🙂

        • FloydThursby1941 9 months ago9 months ago

          The truth will set us all free. If we figure out why some students thrive and replicate it we all thrive. There is no freedom without economic freedom.

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