Credit: Oliver Thomas Klein on Unsplash
This story was updated Aug. 29 to include new information about expected release data and reason for delay.

The California Department of Education now hopes to publicly release statewide results of the Smarter Balanced assessments in math and reading by Sept. 13, after a delay caused by inaccurate data received from its test contractor.

The new date is more than two weeks later than the originally expected public release date of Aug. 29. The department first announced the postponement last Friday, citing a “recently identified data issue.” At that time, no new date was announced.

By Tuesday, department officials clarified that results for about 25,000 special education students “had been associated with a different district from where they were tested,” causing the department to recalculate the statewide data. The department discovered the problem after sending test results to the more than 1,000 local districts “during a preview period to ensure accuracy of the information when it is released to the public,” said department spokesman Bill Ainsworth.

However, he added that results provided to districts through the state’s Online Reporting System “are accurate.”

“We will set a release date as soon as we are confident that we have received an accurate data file from our contractor,” he said. “We are working hard to have the release of test scores prior to the State Board of Education meeting on September 13 and 14.”

The department had previously said the results would be released in September, then earlier this month pushed the date up to Aug. 29. Last year, the department released the scores on Aug. 24. In 2015, the first year of the full test, scores were released on Sept. 9.

School districts have had access to their own results for several weeks. And many parents already have received a report on their children’s individual scores, with a comparison with last year’s results.

The Smarter Balanced tests are part of the state’s California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP. The system also includes alternative assessments for some students with significant cognitive disabilities. Previously, scores for science tests were also released with Smarter Balanced scores. However, the state piloted new tests aligned to Next Generation Science Standards last spring and those scores will not be publicly released.

Federal law requires that states annually test students in math and English language arts in grades 3 to 8 and once in high school, usually 11th grade. California gives the Smarter Balanced assessment, which tests knowledge of the Common Core standards. Of the 13 other states that also give Smarter Balanced, nine have chosen another test either to replace or supplement Smarter Balanced for high school grades.

In addition to statewide scores, the Department of Education will release results by district, school and student groups, with breakdowns for English learners, special education students, low-income students and by ethnic and racial groups.

The state’s website for Smarter Balanced scores is here. EdSource’s data base for 2016 results is here. Last year, 49 percent of students were proficient — defined as meeting or exceeding standards — in English language, and 37 percent were proficient in math. That was 5 percent and 4 percent higher, respectively, than in 2015.

However, there were widespread disparities among ethnic and racial groups: 72 percent of Asian students and 53 percent of white students met or exceeded standards in math, compared with only 18 percent of African-American students and 24 percent of Hispanic students.

Education leaders are hoping the gap will narrow this year.

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  1. M. Fetler 4 weeks ago4 weeks ago

    A bit more transparency is needed from CDE. How does one mis-assign special ed students to districts? More important, how might this affect district averages (raise them, of course), and how might it affect the statewide average? If, somehow, these students scores are excluded from the totals, many schools, districts, subgroups, and state averages will be speciously high. I hope someone in the special education community is taking notice.

    Replies

    • Doug McRae 4 weeks ago4 weeks ago

      Mark: A student from one district may be assigned to a county-run special education program housed in another district where the student receives both special education services and mainstreaming services by the housing district. Which district gets to count that student's test scores should be determined by rules communicated by CDE staff to ETS and then executed by ETS staff. If those rules were incorrectly communicated or incorrectly executed, then the student's score needs … Read More

      Mark: A student from one district may be assigned to a county-run special education program housed in another district where the student receives both special education services and mainstreaming services by the housing district. Which district gets to count that student’s test scores should be determined by rules communicated by CDE staff to ETS and then executed by ETS staff. If those rules were incorrectly communicated or incorrectly executed, then the student’s score needs to be moved from the incorrect assignment to the correct assignment. There are more than 300,000 special education students who take Smarter Balanced tests, so having upwards of 25,000 students assigned to the wrong school is more than possible.

      When a score is removed from one district (or school) and assigned to another district (or school), then those moves can change aggregate and subgroup scores for both districts or schools, but the student will still be included in the statewide scores. Thus, the statewide scores, including statewide subgroup scores, will not change. No scores should be excluded from final statewide results, but individual districts and/or schools may have their student counts and student results affected by the swaps between schools or districts.

  2. Doug McRae 4 weeks ago4 weeks ago

    If the incorrect assignment of about 25,000 students with disabilities to schools is the only problem with the results, then that problem does not affect statewide results either for the entire statewide group tested or for subgroup statewide data. Only the district and/or school data is affected by the problem, including subgroup data for districts and/or schools. One option for the CDE is to release statewide results via a press release that includes tables with … Read More

    If the incorrect assignment of about 25,000 students with disabilities to schools is the only problem with the results, then that problem does not affect statewide results either for the entire statewide group tested or for subgroup statewide data. Only the district and/or school data is affected by the problem, including subgroup data for districts and/or schools.

    One option for the CDE is to release statewide results via a press release that includes tables with comparisons to the previous year’s data as well as subgroup results, as has been done in the past. Then the results website with the corrected district/school data can be released when it is ready.

    This is the way a number of other states choose to release their test results, with the statewide results first via press release and then the school/district searchable database a few weeks later.

  3. Soma Cassady 4 weeks ago4 weeks ago

    How are "educational leaders" going to "narrow the gap? " Seriously. They've been saying that but they don't even step foot in classrooms. Maybe they should roll up their sleeves and have a go at teaching. Read More

    How are “educational leaders” going to “narrow the gap? ” Seriously. They’ve been saying that but they don’t even step foot in classrooms. Maybe they should roll up their sleeves and have a go at teaching.

  4. Wayne Bishop 4 weeks ago4 weeks ago

    "Of the 13 other states that also give Smarter Balanced, nine have chosen another test either to replace or supplement Smarter Balanced for high school grades." Obviously, California can't take a leadership role in this promising direction but perhaps it could at least take a followership role? Maybe replace the misnamed "Smarter and Balanced" with ones that really are, the CSTs that they replaced? And not just … Read More

    “Of the 13 other states that also give Smarter Balanced, nine have chosen another test either to replace or supplement Smarter Balanced for high school grades.”

    Obviously, California can’t take a leadership role in this promising direction but perhaps it could at least take a followership role? Maybe replace the misnamed “Smarter and Balanced” with ones that really are, the CSTs that they replaced? And not just at high school but all grades?

  5. JudiAU 4 weeks ago4 weeks ago

    What fresh incompetence is this? And will people be fired over these mistakes? Unlikely. No details. No time frame. The only data errors are the actual, wretched test scores.