During the next few weeks California educators will play a pivotal role in a crucial phase of work for the new Smarter Balanced assessments that millions of California students will take this spring for the first time: setting the cutoff  scores that will indicate whether a student is academically on track for the next grade level and ultimately whether they are ready for college and careers.

At the State Board of Education meeting last month, board member Sue Burr said setting what educators call “cut scores” to establish proficiency levels of students is “the next big piece of work” in the implementation of the Common Core standards adopted by the state in 2010.

Historically, states have chosen their own annual tests and set their own proficiency levels in assessing the performance of their students.  That will change this spring, at least for California and 16 other member states of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium that are currently expected to administer the same new assessments, according to an Education Week analysis. The assessments are aligned with the Common Core, a set of academic standards adopted by nearly all states and representing potentially one of the most significant reforms in decades. More than 4 million students in those states – at least 3.2  million of them in California – in third through eighth grades and 11th grade will take the same assessments in math and English language arts.

The prospect of students in multiple states taking identical assessments, and officials in those states agreeing on common proficiency levels, is unprecedented in California and U.S. history, and many educators and researchers are welcoming the changes.

“I think it is critical that we be able to accurately compare the performance of California’s students with students in other states,” said Lawrence Picus, a professor at the USC Rossier School of Education. “In a country where I can travel nearly 3,000 miles and get an identical McDonald’s hamburger, it seems that I should also be able to expect that I can accurately compare the standardized test results from my child’s school with other schools and states across the country.”

The cut scores are important because they will provide guidance for anyone trying to interpret student performance on the new assessments –from parents and students to teachers, policy makers, education advocates and researchers.

“It’s critically important for us because it establishes expectations for student achievement,” said Diane Hernandez, director of the Assessment Development and Administration Division at the California Department of Education.

About two dozen teachers, test and curriculum administrators and college representatives from California will join nearly 500 educators from other states from Oct. 13-19 in Dallas to propose the cut scores for what educators call “achievement levels” for the assessments that are aligned with the Common Core state standards. They will also get input from thousands of volunteers from California who have signed up to be part of an online panel  that will take three hours on a day they have been assigned from Oct. 6-17 to review the tests and propose cut scores in a grade level and subject area of their choosing.

“In a country where I can travel nearly 3,000 miles and get an identical McDonald’s hamburger, it seems that I should also be able to expect that I can accurately compare the standardized test results from my child’s school with other schools and states across the country,” said Lawrence Picus, a professor at the USC Rossier School of Education.

The process will bring some states closer to actualizing a vision articulated exactly 25 years ago at an Education Summit that President George H.W. Bush hosted in Charlottesville, Virginia, with all 50 governors. The summit led to Bush’s America 2000 initiative, and its proposals for voluntary national tests. President Clinton also proposed voluntary national tests in fourth grade reading and eighth grade math. Both efforts foundered in the face of political opposition from a range of sources.

“There have been a whole bunch of shots at this over time,” said Marshall Smith, a former dean of the Stanford School of Education and a former high-ranking official at the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton and Obama administrations.

With passage of the No Child Left Behind law, which President George W. Bush signed in 2002, the nation went in the opposite direction. Despite the detailed, top-down requirements imposed on states by the federal government, each state administered its own tests and set its own levels of proficiency. That made it impossible to compare how one state was doing in relation to another.

The adoption of the Common Core standards by 43 states and the District of Columbia, under the auspices of the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association, has revived the idea of national standards in public education.

California has been a leader in the larger of the two consortia, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which developed assessments that students will take in the spring. Nine other states and the District of Columbia, which belong to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, known as PARCC, will take a different set of assessments in setting their proficiency standards. Twenty-four states will administer other tests, including those drawn up by American College Tests (ACT) and the American Institute of Research, according to Education Week. 

The opportunity to participate in setting proficiency levels generated enormous interest in education circles in California, where about 800 teachers and other educators applied to be on the “in person” panel that will recommend where to set the proficiency levels on the Smarter Balanced assessments. Just over half of those who applied were deemed eligible to participate, and 27 were selected to join other educators in Dallas next week.  The names of those selected have not been released by the California Department of Education, although they will be published after the process is completed.

Each of the reviewers will take a practice test and be given an overview of the test-review process. Then participants will be assigned to smaller panels to review the assessments for each grade level and subject area, starting with the easiest questions and ending with the most difficult problems. Reviewers then will identify which questions they feel are most closely linked to a particular level of proficiency.

The Smarter Balanced consortium envisaged four levels of achievement, which describe whether students have demonstrated “deep command,” “sufficient command,” “partial command,” or “minimal command” of English language arts and math.

For more than a decade, California described student performance levels on the California Standards Tests, which students took until last year, as “far below,” “below basic,” “basic,” “proficient,” and “advanced.” The terminology that will be used to describe each performance level on the Smarter Balanced assessments – what educators call “achievement level descriptors” – has yet to be adopted.

Once the Smarter Balanced reviewers’ work is concluded, 60 panel members will break into two groups – math and English Language Arts – to ensure that cut scores at each grade level are appropriately aligned across each subject area.

Jacqueline King, director of higher education collaboration at the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, said she was confident that the process will run smoothly. She said Smarter Balanced has conducted a “dress rehearsal” of the online panel and many of the experts attending the in-person panel meetings have been involved in achievement-level setting “many, many times before.” At the same time, an auditor will observe the entire process to prepare a report for the Smarter Balanced technical advisory committee.

Also providing input will be an online panel made up of thousands of educators, parents, community members and business people, two-thirds of whom are expected to be from California.  The closing date to sign up for the online panel was Sept. 26.

One online volunteer is Cindi Blair, a former elementary teacher in the San Bernardino City Unified School District who helps train the district’s test coordinators and examiners. Eight years ago, she participated in a panel that re-established cut scores for California’s standardized test, which measures proficiency levels of English learners. Two of Blair’s colleagues have also registered for the online panel.

Establishing common proficiency levels across states will be especially helpful when students transfer to her district from another state, Blair said. Comparing student achievement from other states has been an imperfect process, she said, especially at the high school level. Information on how students performed on the Smarter Balanced assessments will be helpful in getting students on the “same page academically,” she said.

The common proficiency levels have raised concerns about whether California would give up some of its autonomy by setting performance levels in tandem with 16 other states. “California had a great deal of autonomy on setting our achievement levels, and some of that power and autonomy is being ceded to the national consortium,” said Patricia Rucker, a member of the State Board of Education at its most recent meeting in Sacramento. Rucker was assured that the state would have an observer at the Dallas meetings – and that the state board would get a full report after the meetings concluded.

Others think these concerns are unwarranted. “That is a trade-off in an assessment consortium,” said Morgan Polikoff, a professor at the USC Rossier School of Education. “You have to believe that the benefits of setting common cut scores far outweigh the costs in terms of lost autonomy, which on this particular issue seems especially minor.”

The Smarter Balanced’s King said setting cut scores at a high level would be a departure from the current achievement levels of many states. However, she said the process will be more familiar for California since the state’s past assessment system established high cut scores, which in turn resulted in raising standards and expectations for students, and contributed to more students becoming prepared for college-level work.

Chief state school officers whose states will administer the Smarter Balanced tests will meet Nov. 6 to endorse the proficiency level recommendations coming from the Dallas meetings. The recommendations must be approved by the state board of education in each member state. In California, the proficiency levels will be considered during the State Board of Education’s Nov. 13-14 meeting in Sacramento.

A question raised by the entire process is whether setting the same proficiency levels across states will make a difference in improving student outcomes, so that students leave school ready for college and careers – the ultimate goal of the Common Core standards.

Former U.S. Under Secretary of Education Marshall Smith said it will be crucial for schools “to have the resources and support to implement the Common Core” along with the Next Generation Science Standards, a similar effort to establish national standards for science education in K-12 schools. “If we can get decent responses from teacher training institutions, if we understand it will take six, seven or eight years” to fully implement the new standards, “and keep working on it, it will be terrifically important,” Smith said.

Karla Scoon Reid contributed reporting for this story. 

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  1. Bill Younglove 2 years ago2 years ago

    Can we be absolutely certain, given the variance in raising cattle in different locales today, that the McDonald’s hamburger near the USC campus is IDENTICAL to the one, say, sold near the Harvard campus? How about the water-bereft 100,000 head that were just shipped from drought-ridden CA to other states?

  2. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    From USA Today September 3, 2014: The United States' competitiveness ranking among major economies rose to third place Wednesday in new results of an annual global survey. The World Economic Forum report said the U.S. improved its competitiveness for the second consecutive year, moving up two places based on gains in the nation's institutional framework, including its financial markets, and its innovation scores. "The U.S. ranked high in labor market efficiency, efficient use of talent and capacity to … Read More

    From USA Today September 3, 2014:

    The United States’ competitiveness ranking among major economies rose to third place Wednesday in new results of an annual global survey.

    The World Economic Forum report said the U.S. improved its competitiveness for the second consecutive year, moving up two places based on gains in the nation’s institutional framework, including its financial markets, and its innovation scores.

    “The U.S. ranked high in labor market efficiency, efficient use of talent and capacity to attract and retain that talent, along with the availability of financial services, the report showed.

    Only Switzerland and Singapore finished higher in the overall rankings. In order, Finland, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden rounded out the top ten.

    The World Economic Forum calculates the results by assessing country-level data in 12 economic categories, such as infrastructure quality and technological readiness. “

  3. Doug McRae 2 years ago2 years ago

    It is interesting and revealing that the post does not address credibility of data resulting from use of the Oct 2014 achievement standards-setting process now being conducted by Smarter Balanced -- i.e., Will these cut scores be valid? Will 2015 results from Smarter Balanced tests be valid if they are based on use of 2014 Smarter cut scores? All the signs point to a clear "no" answer to these questions, yet Smarter Balanced and its … Read More

    It is interesting and revealing that the post does not address credibility of data resulting from use of the Oct 2014 achievement standards-setting process now being conducted by Smarter Balanced — i.e., Will these cut scores be valid? Will 2015 results from Smarter Balanced tests be valid if they are based on use of 2014 Smarter cut scores? All the signs point to a clear “no” answer to these questions, yet Smarter Balanced and its advocates in California avoid answering these vital Q’s.

    While the technical details for generating valid cut scores to permit generating valid test scores are perhaps obscure to many, the consequences are clear. Generation of invalid scores for 3.2 million students in California next spring will result in a “recall” of those scores and replacement by valid scores a few months later after valid cut scores are produced. That is a virtual certainty, if folks in charge are to be above board and honest about 2015 test data. At a CDE briefing for local districts last week, the Smarter Balanced representative downplayed the importance of 2014 data in the cut score setting process. That was the same as downplaying the importance of valid test scores. Today, at another CDE briefing, the Smarter Balanced representative provided a similar downplaying answer to the same question, but then added a cynical footnote to the issue by saying . . . . it will take a lot to change the cut scores because folks will have already started using the resulting scores. In other words, don’t be concerned with validity of data, if we start with invalid data . . . . so what, the state leadership will not have the ethical gumption to change the invalid scores after-the-fact. That is an extremely unfortunate viewpoint for anyone with any influence or responsibility for producing a good quality testing program for California’s students and California schools.

    The Smarter Balanced achievement level standards-setting process is extensive and includes a number of ground breaking initiatives, for instance, the on-line crowd-sourcing input to the process. But, at the end-of-the-day, it will not and cannot provide valid cut scores because the data underlying the process are not sufficient to generate credible valid cut scores. EdSource Today’s coverage of this topic in recent weeks simply fails to get to the crux of the issue on the Smarter Balanced standards-setting topic.

    Replies

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      Doug, is an unscientific and improper generation of 2015 cut scores likely to result in more or less stringent standards? If the students do worse than to which they’re accustomed, families will be up in arms. But should they do better they’ll be rejoicing over how wonderful is Common Core and the SB assessments. There must be people in Sacramento who wish you would just go away. Keep up the good work!

      • Doug McRae 2 years ago2 years ago

        Don -- If the 2014 data were used in a typical fashion for a bookmark process standards-setting, including consideration of "impact" data on percent of kids filling each achievement level category for various cut scores on the 3rd round of the bookmark process, then the lack of complete implementation of common core instruction and the "for practice only" test administration conditions in 2014 would suggest the cut scores would be artificially low . . . … Read More

        Don — If the 2014 data were used in a typical fashion for a bookmark process standards-setting, including consideration of “impact” data on percent of kids filling each achievement level category for various cut scores on the 3rd round of the bookmark process, then the lack of complete implementation of common core instruction and the “for practice only” test administration conditions in 2014 would suggest the cut scores would be artificially low . . . . but low cut scores for base accountability measures would mean inflated gain scores for the duration of the use of those cut scores. However, recent information from the verbal presentations to local districts in recent days from Smarter Balanced suggests that impact data will not be part of the Oct 2014 achievement level setting, which is extremely pool cut score setting process. If this is true, then cut scores will likely not be rooted in reality and will be unrealistically high for some grades and content areas and unrealistically low for other grades and content areas, with no way to ascertain their consistency or validity until after impact data become available from the 2015 Smarter Balanced testing cycle (i.e., fall 2015). In this latter case, the Oct 2014 standards-setting exercise becomes a good show but on a practical basis the cut scores won’t be much better than throwing darts at a dart board and we’ll have to wait for fall 2015 to see what is real and what isn’t real. The fundamental problem with the Smarter Balanced test development timeline to date is their need to conduct two item-tryout studies (one in 2013 called a “pilot” test involving 5000 prospective items and a larger one in 2014 (20,000 prospective items) called a “field” test but in fact both item-tryout studies. What is required is a benchmark year study to get the appropriate data upon which to set realistic valid cut scores, and that is what the spring 2015 data collection will be. Attempts to use 2014 information to set valid cut scores are futile . . . . and those attempts are generated by impatience and a lack of strategic planning discipline and the desire to call 2015 a “fully operational” year when in fact it is the final year of test development work for the Smarter Balanced computer-adaptive tests.

        • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

          Doug, I think I got most of that, though I'm not clear on the definition of impact data in this context. But thank for a very detailed answer. So here's my question to follow up: if Common Core instruction is not fully implemented for students who took the item try-out and try-out/field test and those students are not, in addition, a demographically valid sampling of the California student population, how can the … Read More

          Doug, I think I got most of that, though I’m not clear on the definition of impact data in this context. But thank for a very detailed answer. So here’s my question to follow up: if Common Core instruction is not fully implemented for students who took the item try-out and try-out/field test and those students are not, in addition, a demographically valid sampling of the California student population, how can the item 2 try-outs generate valid data? Wouldn’t it be necessary to wait for full CC implementation for at least those students tested before trying to generate valid cut scores in the same way that I cannot expect to obtain useful information by testing my class on Huck Finn until after they have read and studied the book? And what of those students who do not have CC implementation 2015 or after? Just guessing, but I don’t think it is realistic to expect widespread CC implementation until 2017 or 2018 unless there’s a substantial cash infusion for PD and materials in the very near future.

          • Doug McRae 2 years ago2 years ago

            Don: I would agree that full implementation of common core instruction in California will not take place until 2017 or 2018, and I've testified to that effect multiple times at the State Board of Education. The marker for me is SBE approval of common core aligned instructional materials (textbooks, etc) which for E/LA is not scheduled until Nov 2015 and then several years for local districts to conduct local district adoptions and conduct appropriate professional … Read More

            Don: I would agree that full implementation of common core instruction in California will not take place until 2017 or 2018, and I’ve testified to that effect multiple times at the State Board of Education. The marker for me is SBE approval of common core aligned instructional materials (textbooks, etc) which for E/LA is not scheduled until Nov 2015 and then several years for local districts to conduct local district adoptions and conduct appropriate professional development for teachers not only on the common core but also CA curriculum frameworks and the specific locally adopted textbooks. That takes us out to 2017 or 2018, and hoping locals can do a quality job implementing the common core on their own is nothing more than wishful thinking for the vast majority of districts in CA. With the need for common core instruction to be implemented before statewide assessments that will be used to measure the results of instruction [whether folks like it or not, that is reality for statewide assessments], the correct target year for implementation of common core statewide assessments would be 2017 or 2018 for baseline data. But, we’ve been stuck on 2015 as the target year for common core statewide assessments since 2010, and for that I’d point the finger not only at CA leadership but also at the feds for their unrealistic views on the timelines necessary for appropriate implementation of any standards-based system of curriculum and instruction, assessments, and accountability. The political processes and pressures at both the state and federal level do not permit good strategic planning and timing, and the trenches are left to deal with the disasters and bandwagons that result . . . .

            On the technical details for item-tryout studies, those studies involve internal item characteristics and bias studies that do not require stringent or highly scientific samples . . . . generally representative samples of fairly modest sizes are sufficient for those types of studies. The studies are necessary to generate enuf qualified items to build a full test. The studies at the full test level are much more demanding in terms of sampling and representation, and in the case of benchmark studies at the test level the strong recommendation is that they be done on census or 100 percent samples for solid robust valid cut scores that will stand the test of time. That was the case for the STAR CSTs back in 2001 and 2002 which were first implemented in 2003 (after both Math and Reading adoptions were completed at the state level) and those tests had a healthy life cycle of 11 years . . . . . most large scale tests have a life cycle in the 8 to 10 year range.

        • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

          Doug, as you undoubtedly remember, I was a vocal critic of how the CST scores were used for political aims. I stayed away from critiquing its items because I did not have first-hand knowledge of the contents even though I heard enough complaints from my children. Nevertheless, I know that there is a dark art to creating a test that can produce consistent results year after year. This, however, should not be a surprise since ETS has … Read More

          Doug, as you undoubtedly remember, I was a vocal critic of how the CST scores were used for political aims.

          I stayed away from critiquing its items because I did not have first-hand knowledge of the contents even though I heard enough complaints from my children.

          Nevertheless, I know that there is a dark art to creating a test that can produce consistent results year after year. This, however, should not be a surprise since ETS has been “in the business” long enough to know what it is doing.

          However, it seems to me that the folks running SB seem to be willing to follow practices that are just not appropriate when the eventual outcome is supposed to be of such great importance. That’s not good in the long run because it exposes to the public that such products can (and are) manipulated to obtain the desired results.

          What used to be an arcane discussion for those who were willing to understand the process is now very likely to be blown up by people who don’t seem to have enough respect for it. Indeed, imposing a new test on a large population is not something that should be undertaken lightly and takes, of course, several years to implement correctly. That this could be done in a year or two and the politicians and educrats bought it is reprehensible. I am not in agreement with those who say we must have testing all the time to demonstrate the validity of our educational system, but to pretend that what SB is carrying out will fit the bill borders on scientific (and maybe even legal) fraud.

          I am just glad my kids are done with testing because if they weren’t, I would refuse to allow them to be part of this charade.

          I think people need to start thinking about saying “no.”

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            To be honest, I don't think it matters. Not only did the CSTs have inconsistencies as or more severe, even if in a different form, but most people have short memories, and even that only matters for those who knew something to forget in the first place. People care about classifiers more than they care about whether they're accurate ones. Literally whatever comes out of the process will be used to do all the same … Read More

            To be honest, I don’t think it matters. Not only did the CSTs have inconsistencies as or more severe, even if in a different form, but most people have short memories, and even that only matters for those who knew something to forget in the first place.
            People care about classifiers more than they care about whether they’re accurate ones. Literally whatever comes out of the process will be used to do all the same things we(‘ve) already use(d) the CSTs and API for, appropriate or not, as most of the goals are political anyway, and truth matters little in politics.
            As to the actual merits, our district is ‘finally’ in its “CC full implementation year” yet is using math textbooks based on the previous standards and is still waiting on an ELA framework while it uses a patchwork of ELA resources from other states and districts. It still hasn’t provided full pd for teachers or full hdwe resources for testing, and attempts to achieve the former by pulling teachers out of class and replace them with subs to an extent I have not seen until now. There is no reason to expect ‘full implementation’ means anything less than a handful years away from the normal human meaning of that term, and that during which, of course, ‘scores’ will continue to gyrate–or not, though not deterministically–and we will attempt to qualify and quantify even as everyone claims mission accomplished years ago.
            I expect this is par for the course, as far as district CC ‘implementation’ is concerned; perhaps even as test rollout in general is concerned. All of Doug’s and your concerns notwithstanding.

            Aside not directed at you: There is something in journalism called the narrative bias, which is an attempt to impose drama onto abstract issues by the ‘creation’ of protagonists and antagonists (with all the implied and related constructs). When there is an insufficient level of such bias in the content directly (to the medium’s credit in those specific cases), that void spawns trolls aiming to orchestrate their own drama and conflict into which many of us in the participatory ‘audience’ are unable to avoid being drawn. I gave up on this site for a couple of months for this very reason. On returning, I see I may need to give it a couple more.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            I used STAR tests to provide what it was intended to provide a longitudinal relativistic gauge as to how my (younger) child was progressing knowing that grades alone were too subjective and gross as adequate academic performance measures. Even if STAR didn't nail accurate baseline metrics for the content standards, they still gave me a relatively objective way to measure progress from one year to the next. Perhaps this is more important for some … Read More

            I used STAR tests to provide what it was intended to provide a longitudinal relativistic gauge as to how my (younger) child was progressing knowing that grades alone were too subjective and gross as adequate academic performance measures. Even if STAR didn’t nail accurate baseline metrics for the content standards, they still gave me a relatively objective way to measure progress from one year to the next. Perhaps this is more important for some students than for others, particularly if there’s a question as to the particular student’s progress. Some trajectories are obvious and others are not.

  4. Tressy Capps 2 years ago2 years ago

    Look for California to set the bar low for the rest of the nation. Pathetic

  5. Jerry Heverly 2 years ago2 years ago

    How many people think the cut scores will not be revised downward once the first results come in?

  6. Replies

    • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

      For starters, McDonald's keeps a very tight rein on how their product is produced and delivered to the customer. Do we have the same control over education? Do we spend the same amount of money and other resources at every single school across the nation? Do we have a single corporate-like entity controlling education across the USofA? It seems that there is a conflating of disparate concepts here and a comparison between apples and gorillas is being … Read More

      For starters, McDonald’s keeps a very tight rein on how their product is produced and delivered to the customer.

      Do we have the same control over education? Do we spend the same amount of money and other resources at every single school across the nation? Do we have a single corporate-like entity controlling education across the USofA?

      It seems that there is a conflating of disparate concepts here and a comparison between apples and gorillas is being made.

      If this is what the academic (!) leadership is saying, imagine what the political leadership will do based on this type of advice.

      OTOH, we already saw what happened in the Vergara trial where some voodoo economics were used to shock the conscience of the judge.

      And so it goes…

  7. Bruce William Smith 2 years ago2 years ago

    Sorry, Mr. (Marshall) Smith (the former U.S. Under Secretary of Education at the end of the article) and similar supporters, but the end has already been determined by the uncompetitive nature of the Common Core standards: even if you implement all of these perfectly, with wonderful materials and training, and even if they the classes help students somewhat more than they have in the recent past (which is what Scholastic's survey on Common Core implementation … Read More

    Sorry, Mr. (Marshall) Smith (the former U.S. Under Secretary of Education at the end of the article) and similar supporters, but the end has already been determined by the uncompetitive nature of the Common Core standards: even if you implement all of these perfectly, with wonderful materials and training, and even if they the classes help students somewhat more than they have in the recent past (which is what Scholastic’s survey on Common Core implementation currently reveals), your students are still going to emerge from America’s state secondary schools 2-3 years behind their counterparts overseas, at least in mathematics, because of how “college and career ready” was defined in the anchor standards, which is well below how college (or career, for that matter) readiness is defined in Europe and Asia. There, college readiness implies completion of calculus; here, only some intermediate algebra (no trig, no pre-calculus, no stats, no calculus). When you get your PIAAC and PISA scores from the OECD, you’ll find your children are still years behind their competition, in spite of your having spent billions of dollars and wasted years of national effort on a set of standards that when first published were recognized by those few of us Americans who have international teaching experiences as being an inferior product fraudulently foisted on the American public by Achieve, the organization hired by the National Governors Association to coordinate this project — one which badly bungled it and has been misleading the public ever since.

    Replies

    • Bruce William Smith 2 years ago2 years ago

      A quick note: on reading my comment as published, I see I should have deleted the “they” in line 3, and would like to delete the “no stats” phrase in line 7: the Common Core requires learning some statistics, possibly more than in the past in America, though not to the level of Advanced Placement and not to the level required by the leading foreign competition.

      • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

        Bruce: Interesting comments. Too bad they fly in the face of reality. The World Economic Forum, which ranks national economies for "competitiveness," has put the US at #3 for 2014-15. This is up from #7 during the lowest point in the recent recession/depression. This is also after having had the US economy ranked at #1 in the world for a couple of decades. An interesting side-note here is that those countries that maintained a high competitiveness … Read More

        Bruce:

        Interesting comments. Too bad they fly in the face of reality.

        The World Economic Forum, which ranks national economies for “competitiveness,” has put the US at #3 for 2014-15. This is up from #7 during the lowest point in the recent recession/depression. This is also after having had the US economy ranked at #1 in the world for a couple of decades.

        An interesting side-note here is that those countries that maintained a high competitiveness ranking during the recession/depression were mostly the European northern-democracies and their highly socialized economies. Those countries managed to maintain relative economic prosperity by not making the mistakes made by the US and other European countries that invoked false “austerity” measures and implemented public sector cutbacks, particularly widespread public teacher layoffs.

        The US fall from grace, and the rank of #1 in the world, had little to do with the “rigor” of education, content standards, or any kind of test scores. It had to do with “instability” (aka, misfeasance and malfeasance) in the financial sector. Needless to say, though there is wide spread demand (in some sectors) for accountability for schools and teachers that had no culpability in the economic crisis there is little to no accountability in the financial sector that was responsible for the crash.

        I guess you could say “go figure,” except it’s all too easy to figure out why so many of the 1%ers from the financial sector are invested in undermining public schools. These folks are intent on bringing all of the principles and values that crashed the economy, made them billions in the process, and graft them on to public education. What could go wrong?

        • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

          Gary, I really enjoy reading your conspiracy theories, but this is not a creative writing blog.

        • Bruce William Smith 2 years ago2 years ago

          Gary, the World Economic Forum only considers education as one factor in its competitiveness rankings, and not a very large one at that. In its ratings of education systems' abilities to meet the needs of a modern economy, it give the USA a score of 4.6, which places it well out of the top ten; by contrast, the real leaders in education, which I judge to be Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Switzerland, are … Read More

          Gary, the World Economic Forum only considers education as one factor in its competitiveness rankings, and not a very large one at that. In its ratings of education systems’ abilities to meet the needs of a modern economy, it give the USA a score of 4.6, which places it well out of the top ten; by contrast, the real leaders in education, which I judge to be Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Switzerland, are given the scores 4.8, 5.9, 5.3, 5.8, and 6.0 (the top score), respectively. Yet the WEF is not the best source for data on an education system’s quality; for that I would point to PIAAC, which uniquely provides an international assessment of young people aged 16-24, which is the age range nearest that when most students leave formal schooling. On this important assessment, young Americans finished dead last, out of 22 developed nations, in mathematics and in the ability to use technology to solve problems common to everyday living, and below average in reading. And yet America spends more on education, if you count higher education, than any other country.

          Yet all of this data is irrelevant to my point, since I write about the inability of the Common Core mathematics standards to fix any of these problems, and make a prediction about future scores, which obviously haven’t come out yet.