Laurie Udesky/EdSource Today

Students taking Smarter Balanced practice tests at Bayshore Elementary School in Daly City.

California schools are testing more than 3 million students this spring to measure their understanding of math and English Language Arts tied to the new Common Core State Standards. However, the majority of California’s public school parents know nothing about the new tests their children will take, according to a survey by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Fifty-five percent of parents said they knew nothing at all about the tests, known as the Smarter Balanced assessments, according to survey results released Wednesday

The survey also indicated that most (62 percent) California public school parents had received inadequate or no information about the Common Core State Standards, although almost the same number (57 percent) said they favored the standards. 

The survey queried more than 1,700 California adults from April 3 to 13. Results from public school parents were reported separately. 

 The California Department of Education said that it and school districts are “working hard” to educate parents about the new tests, drawn up by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. 

“But as with any new endeavor, it takes time to get the word out,” said a statement from the department. 

Less than one-third of the 3 million students in grades 3 through 8 and 11 who will take the test this year have completed the new online Smarter Balanced assessments that are tied to the Common Core, the statement said. The tests are being rolled out on a staggered basis throughout the state.

“Communication with parents about the new assessment system and efforts to improve student readiness for college and careers is a work in progress,” said Michael Kirst, president of the California State Board of Education. “It will be an even higher priority as scores from this new assessment are released later this year.”

“Parents need to know the scores will reflect student progress on standards that are new and are only one of many indicators of a student’s progress in school,” Kirst added.

“As with any new endeavor, it takes time to get the word out,” said a statement from the California Department of Education.

The survey’s results rang true for one parent. 

“I, and other parents, have been asking our principal for the last few months for information about the new testing,” said Nancy Hsieh, whose children attend school in the San Mateo-Foster City School District, in an email.

The school has scheduled a session for next week, Hsieh said. “I’m curious to see how many people attend.”

One communications expert said spotty attendance at events informing parents about the new tests may be one reason that many are unaware of them. Several districts have held parents’ nights to inform families about the Common Core.

“I’ve been to several of these parents’ nights and attendance is relatively low,” said Neha Gohil, a senior media fellow at the nonprofit Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which supports education and community projects. Gohil directs a Common Core project for which she’s developed media tool kits for school districts around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Still, she finds the lack of awareness about the tests “surprising,” given the amount of information being sent home to parents and the coverage in the media. According to the survey, 75 percent of public school parents said they had received either inadequate or no information from schools about the Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted by California and 42 other states.

Parents responding to the survey also appear to be uninformed about the widely held expectation that the state’s overall test scores will likely be lower than in the past. More than 70 percent of public school parents said that they believed the scores will likely be the same or higher than previous years’ scores on the completely different California Standards Tests that students had been taking for over a decade.

Students’ abilities have not changed, said David Plank, the executive director Policy Analysis for California Education, a research center based at Stanford University. Instead,“the bar has been raised” on what’s expected of students on the new Smarter Balanced assessments. The tests require students to explain how they arrived at their answers and apply critical thinking skills – a big change from what was required on the state’s previous paper-based, multiple-choice tests.

“There will very likely be a number of students who won’t get over the new bar that did get over the old bar,” Plank said.

The survey also asked the state’s public school parents to weigh in on whether they thought standardized tests in general accurately reflected students’ growth and capabilities. The majority of respondents – 62 percent – said they were “very” or “somewhat” confident that standardized tests are a good measure, while 36 percent had little or no confidence.

But the survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points, also revealed that California public school parents are divided on whether there is too much testing. Twenty percent of parents said there is too much testing, while 45 percent said there’s the right amount and 31 percent said there isn’t enough.

Among other poll results, 57 percent of parents said preparing students for college is the most important goal of the K-12 school system, while 61 percent said schools were doing a good or excellent job of preparing students for jobs in the workforce.


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  1. Stephanie 9 months ago9 months ago

    First, let me say that I am lucky in the fact that our school districts did a good job of informing us about the testing with links to practice tests and what to expect from the results. However, my situation is interesting due to the fact I had one child taking the test in 11th grade having never been subjected to CCC in the classroom, and one in 6th grade having the very poor … Read More

    First, let me say that I am lucky in the fact that our school districts did a good job of informing us about the testing with links to practice tests and what to expect from the results. However, my situation is interesting due to the fact I had one child taking the test in 11th grade having never been subjected to CCC in the classroom, and one in 6th grade having the very poor “new math” forced upon her. Her entire 6th grade year she did not have a math book and was jerked around while they tested out what books they would settle on. The results speak loudly. Both my children had on their previous STAR testing scored well into the “advanced” for math. With the new test, my son, the 11th grader with no experience with Common Core, again scored “standard exceeded” score. However my daughter now scored “standard not met.” Now, let me say first that it is not so much the scores that bother me but rather the fact that she has lost out on a years plus of solid math skills and has not really masted them. Now this year, 7th grade, we are struggling. Our district has settled on a book that is so lacking in practice and is completely inadequate. What a disservice we are doing to our kids. Sad times we live in when people like Bill Gate can call the shots for our children.

  2. Teressa 1 year ago1 year ago

    Ok Californians - so we still fall as one of the lowest in the entire country when it comes to education... The North East - NY,CT, NJ, PA have some of the best public schools in the nation and after having common core for 4 years they are considering dropping it. Even the governor of NJ has said it is a mess and wants to get rid of it. Please why can't CA get … Read More

    Ok Californians – so we still fall as one of the lowest in the entire country when it comes to education… The North East – NY,CT, NJ, PA have some of the best public schools in the nation and after having common core for 4 years they are considering dropping it. Even the governor of NJ has said it is a mess and wants to get rid of it. Please why can’t CA get ahead of the curve instead of lagging behind the rest of the nation in education and making our children become part of a flawed experiment.

  3. Shannon 1 year ago1 year ago

    Out of the 487+ Students enrolled at Oak Avenue School in Los Altos, I am the only parent who has opted my child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessments (testing). I had emailed the principal and my sons teacher asking what the exact protocol was for doing this but did not receive a response. I showed up in the office the next day and was told to request in writing that my son not take … Read More

    Out of the 487+ Students enrolled at Oak Avenue School in Los Altos, I am the only parent who has opted my child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessments (testing). I had emailed the principal and my sons teacher asking what the exact protocol was for doing this but did not receive a response. I showed up in the office the next day and was told to request in writing that my son not take the tests that week. I inquired as to what my son would do while testing was going on..they had no idea..but said if they could find room, that he would sit in the office during the testing times. I asked if I should just take him home and keep him on the testing days..but they were very adamant that I not do that. So, my poor son, because of his mothers strong belief against the entire roll out and sense behind common core, has been pretty much singled out and I believe somewhat punished. They don’t even allow him to go to the library but rather have him sit in a room in the office ..they do allow him a book however 😉

    Could be a little paranoia involved but I believe I am even treated a bit differently from deciding to opt my child out of the testing. I never did receive a reply from the principal. I have gone in several times to speak to vice principal however I can never find her on-site.

    The entire sense behind common core has been frustrating. Little if no communication, awareness, education or preparedness for the kids, parents and teachers as well – has been forthcoming.

    Sincerely,

    Los altos public school ~ Frustrated parent

  4. Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

    In response to Doug's comments re testing: "with invalid unreliable unfair test scores in student records, to be misused for flawed placement decisions or other instructional decisions thus undermining any attempts toward providing a quality instructional program for those students." There is an excellent and highly reliable source of information for determining a student's instructional needs and "placement decisions" for the following year. Just ask the student's teacher(s) for this year. I know off no major … Read More

    In response to Doug’s comments re testing: “with invalid unreliable unfair test scores in student records, to be misused for flawed placement decisions or other instructional decisions thus undermining any attempts toward providing a quality instructional program for those students.”

    There is an excellent and highly reliable source of information for determining a student’s instructional needs and “placement decisions” for the following year. Just ask the student’s teacher(s) for this year.

    I know off no major decisions that were made as to instructional needs or student placement based on the CST scores. They just weren’t relevant.

    The state, of course, in an attempt to drop the assessment hammer on the students, created a section on the CSTs for high school students that (theoretically anyway) would excuse them from “remedial” courses at the CSUs and UCs if they did well. This was an obvious attempt by the state to make a test that had little or no intrinsic value to the students have some extrinsic value. This is akin to the discussion of students opting out of the SBAC in certain affluent areas in CA because the SBAC has no intrinsic value to them. The AP tests, as the SAT and ACT, and most importantly, teacher made tests upon which grades are based are of the utmost importance to students. It should be added that many colleges are making the SAT and ACT optional because those tests have very little predictive value as to students’ college performance. The most accurate predictors of college success? Teachers’ grades and a student’s class standing (class standing being based on teachers’ grades).

    Replies

    • don 1 year ago1 year ago

      CST test results were often used in san francisco unified to determine whether students with special needs were at least 1-2 years behind prevailing standards in order to qualify for an IEP.

  5. Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

    The trajectory of introducing new tests is pretty well established. Scores initially are low and then, as students and teachers "adapt" to them, the scores rise and then plateau. At this point new tests are introduced and the cycle begins anew. Parents are indicating that they lack an abstract level of interest in the new tests by voting with feet and not showing up for meetings to explain the new tests and CCSS. And, it appears, … Read More

    The trajectory of introducing new tests is pretty well established. Scores initially are low and then, as students and teachers “adapt” to them, the scores rise and then plateau. At this point new tests are introduced and the cycle begins anew.

    Parents are indicating that they lack an abstract level of interest in the new tests by voting with feet and not showing up for meetings to explain the new tests and CCSS. And, it appears, they are not doing the all important “close reading” of materials that are sent home to inform them.

    Anyone who has actually worked in the school system will not be shocked by these developments.

    There will be the usual “shock and awe” put out by the usual media sources about the “crisis in the schools” revealed by the new test scores, but the SBE/CDE are doing what they can to mediate this by having the actual materials that present the “scores” to be in a more nuanced format that should dispel some the anticipated hysteria. That effort will be countered by the public-school-criticism-indistral-complex who will work to drum up more hysteria to further their usual agenda.

    The most realistic and meaningful option would be to just hold off all public release of testing information until adequate instructional time has been invested, resources have been allocated, professional development has been provided, and high quality materials have been developed and distributed. This, of course, makes good educational sense; however, since public education is a political football at least as much as an educational venture good sense will be set aside. The powers that be at CDE & SBE have done what they could to see that the “time factor” is as mitigated as they can manage. But the pundits, editorialists, self-appointed reformers, real estate interests, etc. must have those newspaper box score displays in whatever their new form might be, and educational objectives are secondary to those whims. The beast must be fed.

    Replies

    • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

      Why all the secrecy? If everyone knows this is the normal rigamarole then why do we need to hide things until we can pretend they are perfect? The fact is the tests will never completely measure what we want them to measure. The solution to that is inspection, not suppression.

      • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

        Navigio:

        What “secrecy” are you referring to?

  6. Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

    The Cabinet Report post today said these poll results hint of a political train wreck for the Smarter Balanced tests this spring, in that most parents are not aware of likely decreases in student scores. Indeed, CA's approach to introducing a new tests with likely "apparent" decreases in scores follows very poor educational testing practice . . . . . good practice would be to have a comparability study to forecast the apparent decreases … Read More

    The Cabinet Report post today said these poll results hint of a political train wreck for the Smarter Balanced tests this spring, in that most parents are not aware of likely decreases in student scores. Indeed, CA’s approach to introducing a new tests with likely “apparent” decreases in scores follows very poor educational testing practice . . . . . good practice would be to have a comparability study to forecast the apparent decreases and help explain the changes to students and parents and the public when the results are released. Indeed, the SSPI report to the legislature January 2013 recommended the change from the old STAR program to a new Smarter Balanced program include comparability information from old to new. And the experience of early common core assessment states would strongly confirm the need for comparability information . . . . Kentucky was the first state to institute CC tests in 2012, and they had comparability from old to new data and used that to explain the changes without major hassles . . . . New York instituted CC tests in 2013 and did not do comparability from old to new and when they released results (roughly the same “declines” as Kentucky) they were not able to explain the changes to their publics, resulting in major negative publicity. Unfortunately, the January 2013 SSPI recommendation to the legislature to include comparability information in the plan for new tests took a 180 degree turn in August/September when AB 484 was approved by the legislature, with that SSPI-sponsored bill prohibiting any comparisons from old to new. The claim that the new standards were radically different from the old standards, thus comparability could not be done, did not hold water . . . . it was only political spin to sell AB 484 to the legislature and governor. So, what CA has now is the prospect of large “decreases” in scores without data to explain the changes. The political train wreck hinted by the PPIC polling as reported by the Cabinet Report can only be described as a self-inflicted wound . . . . .

    Replies

    • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

      Doug, if that isn’t enough, isn’t it also true that the slow implementation of Common Core instruction coupled with the hasty rollout of testing, (as you have astutely maintained throughout), was likely to result in lower results anyway, even under ideal test conditions and with comparability info?

      • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

        Let me rephrase that – isn’t it also true that the slow implementation of Common Core instruction and the hasty test rollout was likely to result in lower results anyway, even with comparability info?

        • Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

          Yup, the lack of adequate implementation of common core instruction [my estimate is only 1/2 to 2/3 at best of schools in CA have reasonably implemented CC instruction] leads to invalid test results, as well as lower test results. Comparability of old to new tests would provide estimates for what student scores would have been if the old tests were continued, highly recommended if not essential for large scale statewide assessment programs as good … Read More

          Yup, the lack of adequate implementation of common core instruction [my estimate is only 1/2 to 2/3 at best of schools in CA have reasonably implemented CC instruction] leads to invalid test results, as well as lower test results. Comparability of old to new tests would provide estimates for what student scores would have been if the old tests were continued, highly recommended if not essential for large scale statewide assessment programs as good educational measurement practice. With adequate implementation of instruction before new tests are installed, comparability studies will provide quite accurate estimates for how well kids would have done on the old tests; without adequate implementation of instruction, the comparability information will be considerably less accurate due to compromises in the validity of the data . . . . I should note that validity of this spring’s scores will vary widely from school-to-school and district-to-district since some schools/districts have indeed implemented common core instruction, and hence their scores will be valid . . . . and if comparability studies had been done, their “drop” in scores would likely have been quite explainable via good comparability data.

          • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

            If I'm not mistaken, the whole idea of criteria-referenced tests is to measure how well districts and schools and classrooms and teachers are 'implementing' the standard it uses as the criteria. If the scores are 'lower' because it's not being implemented, then isn't that a completely valid result? I.e. an indication that they are not being implemented? As arne said, part of the problem is we've been lying to ourselves that our previous standards were … Read More

            If I’m not mistaken, the whole idea of criteria-referenced tests is to measure how well districts and schools and classrooms and teachers are ‘implementing’ the standard it uses as the criteria. If the scores are ‘lower’ because it’s not being implemented, then isn’t that a completely valid result? I.e. an indication that they are not being implemented? As arne said, part of the problem is we’ve been lying to ourselves that our previous standards were useful, independent of how well we were teaching them.
            In theory, any ‘comparability’ study would have to take such dynamics into account in order to be accurate. Personally, I doubt such a study is possible because it would also entail understanding how well the two standards align, in addition to all the other things.
            My guess is the SBAC field test and subsequent performance level setting exercise were intended to be a defacto ‘comparability study’. Note the use of the terms ‘grade-level’ and ‘proficiency’ in the discussions about those results. Even if they end up being significantly different than ‘predicted’, I expect people to forget about any comparability once they have their teeth on some specific notion of proficiency on this year’s tests.

            • Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

              Navigio -- The validity problem due to lack of appropriate implementation stems primarily from the "opportunity to learn" requirement for large scale high stakes tests that was advanced in the late 70's for the first statewide high school graduation tests, with that requirement established by the courts in 1978 and having held up for more than 35 years for the design and implementation of all large scale K-12 tests. Dave Gordon, SacCo Supt, said it … Read More

              Navigio — The validity problem due to lack of appropriate implementation stems primarily from the “opportunity to learn” requirement for large scale high stakes tests that was advanced in the late 70’s for the first statewide high school graduation tests, with that requirement established by the courts in 1978 and having held up for more than 35 years for the design and implementation of all large scale K-12 tests. Dave Gordon, SacCo Supt, said it best about a year ago when he was quoted by the SacBee as saying “It just isn’t fair to test students on material they haven’t been taught.” Translate that scenario to students and parents justifiably complaining when a teacher includes content that hasn’t been addressed in a course on a final exam, and one understands the validity problem for CA’s 2015 Smarter Balanced tests. Aside from the educational measurement point that I make, from a practical point-of-view, does it make sense to administer tests to 3.2 million kids at the cost of roughly $100 million to conclude that the low scores simply say that common core instruction has yet to be implemented in a school or a district yet? We certainly can find that out without the time and expense of a full scale statewide testing program . . . .

            • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

              Hi Doug. Your response implies that the validity problem goes away with time. I would posit that it does not. Instead, only its nature changes (the tests never completely measure the things we want them to, how that diverges changes over time). I also think the relevance of the validity problem changes depending on the perspective of the critic. The failure in implementation will directly be reflected by, likely, lower test scores. If that's true, … Read More

              Hi Doug. Your response implies that the validity problem goes away with time. I would posit that it does not. Instead, only its nature changes (the tests never completely measure the things we want them to, how that diverges changes over time).

              I also think the relevance of the validity problem changes depending on the perspective of the critic. The failure in implementation will directly be reflected by, likely, lower test scores. If that’s true, from the perspective of judging the broader system itself, those results have meaning. Where they are admittedly less useful is when trying to apply them to individual students or teachers, as the causes of that failure are largely out of their control. Somewhere in the middle are districts, as they have been making decisions for a half decade or so related to this implementation/transition, yet also have been, to varying degrees, hampered by shenanigans outside their control.

              Our district called this year ‘full implementation year’ for CC. If I hand’t happened to check textbook alignment, curriculum and framework sources, nor understood just a little about tests, their scores and how they are developed, I might have even believed them.

              Is that worth $100M? I don’t know. Is it worth $100M to spend 2 weeks of non-instructional time to implement tests that tell us we lack 1 week of instructional time? (or whatever the lack happens to be at the moment). And that while issuing layoff notices because we cant think of any other way to close budget deficits. I expect there are a lot of things we could find out without the time and expense of a full scale state-wide testing program. But as usual, the answer is probably somewhere in the middle.

              As to the question of fair, I’d ask whether it’s fair to test a student in a non-native language. Or whether it’s fair to close a school based, even only substantially, on raw test scores? Is it fair to include high school vocabulary in the instructions of a third grade test? Is it fair not to allow districts be able to opt out of selected sections of the test if their teachers were unable to teach everything in that year’s curriculum or had to gloss over some portions? (likely will happen this year due to the increased level of PD for CC). Or if the student happened to be absent or undergone some trauma during that module? Is it fair to have test questions with more than one answer? Or mistakes? Or ‘tricks’ (as some teachers are claiming). Is it fair to expect differentiated instruction in 5th grade classes with 40 or 50 students? Is it fair to hold classes in temporary facilities when it’s been proven that they have lower levels of oxygen? (in lausd, about 30% of available classroom space is of this nature–likely not uncommon for other districts). We–well, I–could go on and on about fair. Ultimately the question comes down to how you want to use the tests as to whether they really are ever ‘fair’ (and to whom this ‘fairness’ applies).

              Regardless, the idea behind his particular statement only makes sense if the new standards are so significantly different from the old ones that they make the tests invalid. I’ve heard estimates of an over 80% overlap between the two. Who knows if that’s right. Fresno has done a crosswalk of the old and new standards and it’s worth reading and discussing. The relevance would also depend on how the tests are designed. An interesting analysis would be to study how students did specifically on those overlap portions (and how that changes with time). I expect last year’s field test might have allowed that in places where the newer teaching paradigms had not yet taken hold.

              In the end, the system made mistakes. It will continue to do so unless there are consequences. Perhaps we can even use this opportunity to be more transparent and analytical about the process itself. Unfortunately, I doubt it..

            • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

              Excellent points, except one. Facilities are lacking, yes, but if you condone the entry of millions of undocumented immigrants into the country and the burdens that entails, you can hardly complain on a humanitarian, moral or legal basis that civic planning and spending is inadequate for schools or anything else. There's a reason why modern nations have immigration policies - to avoid this sort of public service chaos. That's assuming you do indeed agree with … Read More

              Excellent points, except one. Facilities are lacking, yes, but if you condone the entry of millions of undocumented immigrants into the country and the burdens that entails, you can hardly complain on a humanitarian, moral or legal basis that civic planning and spending is inadequate for schools or anything else. There’s a reason why modern nations have immigration policies – to avoid this sort of public service chaos. That’s assuming you do indeed agree with our current policy (or non-policy).

              If end of year summative assessment s are seen as data for longitudinal analysis of year over year general progress of districts and schools, rather than absolute determinants of individual achievement, then the concept of some measurement error, which of course always exists, doesn’t have quite the cache.

            • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

              Imho the facilities and immigration issues are almost entirely separate. We are in the midst of a long-term and significant enrollment decline, even with immigration and general population growth. Schools are being closed on a fairly regular basis in many places. This even in an attempt to keep temporary facilities occupied. The barrier to keeping schools open is presented as a staffing ratio (and thus cost) issue and not a facilities issue per se. That … Read More

              Imho the facilities and immigration issues are almost entirely separate. We are in the midst of a long-term and significant enrollment decline, even with immigration and general population growth. Schools are being closed on a fairly regular basis in many places. This even in an attempt to keep temporary facilities occupied. The barrier to keeping schools open is presented as a staffing ratio (and thus cost) issue and not a facilities issue per se.
              That said, the history of temp facilities is a complex one. But I do think looking at how our supposed budget ‘realities’ have influenced the current facilities situation can be enlightening.

            • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

              Not to put too fine a point on it: California Public K–12 Graded Enrollment and High School Graduate Projections by County — 2014 Series December 2014 California Public K–12 Graded Enrollment Projections Table, 2014 Series (.xls, 1 MB) Highlights State Enrollment California experienced a slight increase (fewer than 10,000 students) in public K-12 enrollment in the 2013-14 school year enrolling approximately 6.2 million students. Over the next ten years, very little change in … Read More

              Not to put too fine a point on it:

              California Public K–12 Graded Enrollment and High School Graduate Projections by County — 2014 Series

              December 2014
              California Public K–12 Graded Enrollment Projections Table, 2014 Series (.xls, 1 MB)

              Highlights

              State Enrollment

              California experienced a slight increase (fewer than 10,000 students) in public K-12 enrollment in the 2013-14 school year enrolling approximately 6.2 million students. Over the next ten years, very little change in total enrollment is projected if current trends in fertility and migration hold.

              County Enrollment

              The largest increases in county enrollment by 2023-24 are expected in Riverside (over 26,000 students), San Diego (over 23,000 students), and Kern (over 21,000 students). The biggest declines in enrollment are expected in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Overall 30 counties will gain public K-12 enrollment and 28 will have lower enrollment or show no change by 2023-24.

              … I would add that illegal immigration adds a degree of incertitude to the above, i.e. recent and unexpected mass immigration of unaccompanied minors (maybe not entirely unexpected given current immigration battles)
              Also, school closure isn’t always related to enrollment and is sometimes charter related. Furthermore, public policy can drive enrollment rather than population changes. Ex. SFUSD student assignment policy and math sequence changes has already resulted in outflows to private and other districts.

            • TheMorrigan 1 year ago1 year ago

              “Also, school closure isn’t always related to enrollment and is sometimes charter related.”

              No matter what you call it, it is still enrollment.

          • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

            The dearth of Common Core instructional materials has left teachers all over the state scrambling to implement CC on an ad hoc basis, complicating the analysis of instructional implementation. How can we accurately measure the CC rollout to factor it into results? Certainly not by the test results themselves, as they are tainted. But the point is this: The damage from this train wreck is more than political. It comes at a real human … Read More

            The dearth of Common Core instructional materials has left teachers all over the state scrambling to implement CC on an ad hoc basis, complicating the analysis of instructional implementation. How can we accurately measure the CC rollout to factor it into results? Certainly not by the test results themselves, as they are tainted. But the point is this: The damage from this train wreck is more than political. It comes at a real human cost in hours spent by teachers and students who must endure a botched implementation, even though CA’s late arrival didn’t translate to better planning, but rather, hasty catch-up.

            Based upon the recent series of interviews on Ed Source with district leaders concerning CCSS, my impression is that they (the leaders) are trying hard to spin implementation for the better. One district leader said her school lacked adequate materials, professional development, understanding in content areas, and “time to really dig deep into the standards”, but when asked how she was doing in the implementation she claimed she was “were we need to be”. With a bar that low she better start learning the limbo.

            • Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

              Don — I would contend that the greater damage is not in lost time or money but rather with invalid unreliable unfair test scores in student records, to be misused for flawed placement decisions or other instructional decisions thus undermining any attempts toward providing a quality instructional program for those students.

            • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

              Doug, I would agree with that. Apparently our political and educational leaders would not.

          • Manuel 1 year ago1 year ago

            Doug, thank you for stating that. That is very important, coming from a person of stature in California testing. I would, however, go further: parents and taxpayers can no longer trust those "in charge" to produce a testing system that is not unfair, not grade-appropriate, and/or used for purposes it wasn't designed. Given that the CSTs effectively labeled half the student population as non-proficient (aka "not at grade level") by virtue of them being "below the average," … Read More

            Doug, thank you for stating that. That is very important, coming from a person of stature in California testing.

            I would, however, go further: parents and taxpayers can no longer trust those “in charge” to produce a testing system that is not unfair, not grade-appropriate, and/or used for purposes it wasn’t designed.

            Given that the CSTs effectively labeled half the student population as non-proficient (aka “not at grade level”) by virtue of them being “below the average,” the standardized testing used in California has been unfair from the beginning, a decision that I recall you once termed as having been made “above your pay level.”

            Yet, as the Common Core train heads for the cliff, it is clear that the stakes are higher since the interim assessments being offered to schools are cut from the same cloth as the SBAC. What will happen when these assessments are used as the basis for the grades of California children and a significant portion of them are flunked out?

            Those parents who went to college, who were pressumably graded “on the curve” somewhere along the way, will be the first to cry foul.

            You ain’t seen nothin’ yet so bring some popcorn.

            • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

              "What will happen when these assessments are used as the basis for the grades of California children and a significant portion of them are flunked out?" Manuel, I suspect that such a scenario would pour fuel into the opt-out movement and turn it from a relatively small phenomenon at present to a mainstream one, though that could happen anyway after the test results are revealed and the news cycle affects sentiment going into the next test … Read More

              “What will happen when these assessments are used as the basis for the grades of California children and a significant portion of them are flunked out?”

              Manuel, I suspect that such a scenario would pour fuel into the opt-out movement and turn it from a relatively small phenomenon at present to a mainstream one, though that could happen anyway after the test results are revealed and the news cycle affects sentiment going into the next test cycle. The Ed Code allows for students to opt out of the entire CAASSP system of testing including formative and interim assessments. Teachers would be crazy to allow this to happen. But they’ve been happy to walk down the garden path of national standards so anything is possible. Look at Gary, he’s practically an apologist for Bill Gates at this point.

  7. Roxana Marachi 1 year ago1 year ago

    There is a lot to learn about the new SmarterBalanced test, including a recent invalidation report released in early March, large scale technological server issues that have shut down testing in several states, and documented user interface barriers that have been brought to the attention of SmarterBalanced designers a year ago and that still remain unresolved. For those interested to learn more, current updates and information may be found at http://bit.ly/testing_testing

  8. Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

    Interesting poll. What a contrast to the CSTs where almost every CA parent was an expert and could, if polled then, expound at length on the standard error of measurement on those assessments.

  9. Frances O'Neill Zimmerman 1 year ago1 year ago

    It was reported here last week by education writer Maureen Magee of the daily U-T San Diego that Superintendent Cindy Marten of San Diego Unified recently sent out a letter to families outlining how to "opt-out" of having kids participate in the pilot Common Core test. San Diego is the second largest school district in California. Could that be a CYA response to anticipated poor performance? The story noted there had been no expressed uptick … Read More

    It was reported here last week by education writer Maureen Magee of the daily U-T San Diego that Superintendent Cindy Marten of San Diego Unified recently sent out a letter to families outlining how to “opt-out” of having kids participate in the pilot Common Core test. San Diego is the second largest school district in California. Could that be a CYA response to anticipated poor performance? The story noted there had been no expressed uptick in community desire to “opt-out. ” Furthermore, a recent LA Times poll indicated strong familial support across the state –especially from Latino parents — for annual public reporting of school and student test scores.

    Replies

    • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

      I opted my son out and as far as I know we were the only family to do so out of 300. Most parents feel hard pressed to take any action like, in this case, opting out and drawing unwanted attention to their child. There's always some perceived pressure, whether real or imagined, to please the teachers who are educating your child. So parents are inclined to go along with the crowd to avoid any … Read More

      I opted my son out and as far as I know we were the only family to do so out of 300. Most parents feel hard pressed to take any action like, in this case, opting out and drawing unwanted attention to their child. There’s always some perceived pressure, whether real or imagined, to please the teachers who are educating your child. So parents are inclined to go along with the crowd to avoid any possible negative responses from staff or other students. I find most parents place a great deal of trust in the system which goes along with their woefully limited understanding of the formation of CCSS and SBAC and PARCC. Of course there is a vocal minority that cuts across party lines.

      In the meantime, my son has been coming home telling me that the students have been complaining about how difficult and confusing the tests are. Staff members have said as much as well.

    • CarolineSF 1 year ago1 year ago

      But there's big opt-out activity in places like New York and New Jersey. The New York Times did a story describing this in authoritative tone as entirely driven by the unions, prompting outrage among activists on Long Island, which is a big capital of opt-out activity. The opt-out organizers say they're parents and deny that they're influenced in the slightest by or even communicating with teachers' unions. The voices disparaging and marginalizing the test-refusing parents, … Read More

      But there’s big opt-out activity in places like New York and New Jersey. The New York Times did a story describing this in authoritative tone as entirely driven by the unions, prompting outrage among activists on Long Island, which is a big capital of opt-out activity. The opt-out organizers say they’re parents and deny that they’re influenced in the slightest by or even communicating with teachers’ unions.

      The voices disparaging and marginalizing the test-refusing parents, including U.S. Secretary of Education, are sneering at them as “white suburban moms” who are afraid that their precious hothouse flowers won’t do well on the tests, but is it valid to sneer at and disparage them? Are they really being led around by the nose by teachers’ unions?

      Also, the opt-out activism is coming from both the anti-Obama right and from other directions (oversimplistically described by the press as the left, but really not identifiable on a political spectrum in that way). When the opt-out activists are marginalized as being led around by the nose by the teachers’ unions, how does that jibe with the opt-out fervor from the right, not a segment known for being anything but hostile to unions?

      We can see quite a scramble to disparage the opt-out activists with whatever anyone feels like flinging at the wall, but is it accurate and valid? Discuss among yourselves.

      • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

        "When the opt-out activists are marginalized as being led around by the nose by the teachers’ unions, how does that jibe with the opt-out fervor from the right, not a segment known for being anything but hostile to unions?" The NEA publication, “Status of the American Public School Teacher 2005-2006,” (data as of March 2010) identifies only 41 percent of public school teachers as Democrats. The rest are about evenly split between Republican and independent. … Read More

        “When the opt-out activists are marginalized as being led around by the nose by the teachers’ unions, how does that jibe with the opt-out fervor from the right, not a segment known for being anything but hostile to unions?”

        The NEA publication, “Status of the American Public School Teacher 2005-2006,” (data as of March 2010) identifies only 41 percent of public school teachers as Democrats. The rest are about evenly split between Republican and independent. Not sure about California, but given that a majority of union members are not Democrats it is hard to understand your blanket generalization of Republican hostility to unions, at least as far as the membership is concerned. It exists to be sure, just not in the polarized fashion in which you characterize it.

        It could have something to do with this:

        “California unions spent $32.7 million (public employee unions’ share was $25.7 million) to oppose the recall of former Gov. Gray Davis, yet exit polls found half of union members voted for the recall and 56 percent voted for a Republican candidate to replace him—43 percent for Schwarzenegger and 13 percent for Tom McClintock.” Source: SF Chronicle

        “California unions spent $88,000 (public employee unions’ share was $68,000) in opposing Proposition 22, a 2000 ballot initiative that defined marriage as between a man and a woman” – SF Chronicle

        “58 percent of union households had voted yes on the measure.” LA Times exit poll

        • FloydThursby1941 1 year ago1 year ago

          Opting out just confuses things. What if they completely re-do the test and some people are mad about that and opt out of that? Be a part of changing the questions but don’t opt out.

      • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

        The NYT, though still the nation's "newspaper of record," at times falls prey to the tendency to establish a "narrative" and then stick to it as they go over the cliff. The Times own "ombudsman" has written about this tendency recently.This was the case with Judith Wilson and her reports on WMDs in Iraq and the Time's jingoistic reporting on entering that war. I sometimes think this is the press bending over into pretzel like … Read More

        The NYT, though still the nation’s “newspaper of record,” at times falls prey to the tendency to establish a “narrative” and then stick to it as they go over the cliff. The Times own “ombudsman” has written about this tendency recently.This was the case with Judith Wilson and her reports on WMDs in Iraq and the Time’s jingoistic reporting on entering that war. I sometimes think this is the press bending over into pretzel like contortions to avoid the dread accusations of being a “liberal media,” an accusation that leaves totally unfazed Fox or the WSJ when the opposite charges are made with more more obvious evidence at hand. That being said the NYT narrative on public education and teachers’ unions has been about as objective as their reports on Saddam hiding under everyone’s bed. This not only plagues their editorial slant (and editorial slants are allowed under the 1st Amendment), but also seem to overflow into some of their reporting on education. The Times has been fully aligned with the positions of the self-styled (dare we say corporatists) school reformer agendas and constant attacks on teachers and unions. It would be no surprise for the Times to try and “sully,” from their anti-union, neo-liberal, perspective, the opt-out movements on the east coast. What really happened on the east coast was the reckless implementation of tests based on CCSS when neither the kids, the teachers, the professional development, the instructional time, nor instructional materials were in place to accommodate the changes. BTW, the current governor of New York continues with the reckless behavior which will create its own kind of backlash.

  10. Paul Muench 1 year ago1 year ago

    There are many reasons a parent won't make it to a district education event. Another PPIC survey from 2013 shows that 86% of Californians are internet users. The Common Core and SBAC web sites have more detailed information than what you'll get from a district in a 1 hour presentation. So why expect information to come from schools? Are parents using the online resources? Could use of the internet explain … Read More

    There are many reasons a parent won’t make it to a district education event. Another PPIC survey from 2013 shows that 86% of Californians are internet users. The Common Core and SBAC web sites have more detailed information than what you’ll get from a district in a 1 hour presentation. So why expect information to come from schools? Are parents using the online resources? Could use of the internet explain why the majority of parents support Common Core, but yet think their school has not provided them with adequate information? Or are we just seeing some form of bias at work here?

    Replies

    • CarolineSF 1 year ago1 year ago

      Paul, that's just the "sounds good to me" reflex. When polls tabulate answers from people who admittedly knew nothing about the topic until they were asked, should they be considered valid and reported as credible? Discuss among yourselves. Once for a blog post, I interviewed pollster Mark DiCamillo about how they do polls on Prop. 13. If you talk to Californians IRL (in real life), you'll discover that only a tiny percentage have more than … Read More

      Paul, that’s just the “sounds good to me” reflex. When polls tabulate answers from people who admittedly knew nothing about the topic until they were asked, should they be considered valid and reported as credible? Discuss among yourselves.

      Once for a blog post, I interviewed pollster Mark DiCamillo about how they do polls on Prop. 13. If you talk to Californians IRL (in real life), you’ll discover that only a tiny percentage have more than the very vaguest idea of what Prop. 13 is. DiCamillo agreed that that was true, and sent me the one-paragraph description of Prop. 13 they showed to people when they asked them about it. So: Q. What do you think of Prop. 13? A. What is it? Never heard of it. Q. Here, read this. A. OK, sounds good to me.

      Sounds like that’s how the polls on Common Core are going too. So, again, is it valid to report them, when answers from people who knew nothing about the topic are counted in the results?

  11. Manuel 1 year ago1 year ago

    Why is it surprising that parents have no idea what is in the SBAC tests? Parents never really knew what was in the CSTs either, and those tests were administered for 12 years (2002 through 2013). Sure, parents are told that the test follow certain standards (Common Core for the SBACs and the California Standards for the CSTs), but that's not the same as knowing what is in the tests because, as we know, the tests … Read More

    Why is it surprising that parents have no idea what is in the SBAC tests? Parents never really knew what was in the CSTs either, and those tests were administered for 12 years (2002 through 2013).

    Sure, parents are told that the test follow certain standards (Common Core for the SBACs and the California Standards for the CSTs), but that’s not the same as knowing what is in the tests because, as we know, the tests questions are not available due to test security and other concerns.

    If a parent discovers that her/his child does not do well in the tests, there is nothing a parent can do to prepare the child for the next other than the usual: “read more, study more, have a good night rest before the test and try to do a good job.” Where is the feedback on areas of weakness and/or strength?

    Anyway, the tests have not been given and even when they are, there is no consequence to the student if they don’t do “well” on it, so why should a parent care what is in the test? It is not like the SAT where you can get tutoring for the kid.

    You can be sure that there would be greater interest from parents if the SBAC score were to be part of the student’s school record. But that will not happen in California.

    Or will it?

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