Rigorous, inspiring, exciting, and challenging are all accurate descriptions of the Common Core State Standards. And regardless of your viewpoint they provide a framework for 21st century education that affects both teachers and classroom learners. States that have adopted the Common Core are working hard with administrators, teachers, and students to prepare for this transition to more demanding and meaningful standards.
With changing standards comes shifting definitions of proficiency, however. In this transition, educators will want to understand what information the accountability assessments will provide, and the nature of the proposed assessments. Because the planned Smarter Balanced and PARCC assessments are both new and assess more rigorous standards, most states anticipate the first few years of implementation will show a drop in the number of students rated proficient. In the short term, this drop will impact teachers, principals and students – raising concerns about student learning as well as teacher and principal effectiveness
In fact, an Edutopia blog from Vanessa Vega – The State of the Common Core – highlighted just this very thing from both Kentucky and New York:
Early results from testing the Common Core Standards in New York and Kentucky indicate that the majority of students are not yet on track for college and career readiness. Supporting students and teachers in achieving challenging goals will take time and resources.
Rather than stakeholders seeing this change as a signal that more difficult measures are in place, however, lower scores and decreased proficiency rates threaten to undermine the standards’ perceived success.
Pairing summative assessments like Smarter Balanced and PARCC with interim assessments, such as our Common Core MAP® and MAP for Primary Grades, educators can identify instructional needs and provide a more rounded view of student achievement and growth, even if there are proficiency level drops. Interim assessments can help teachers and students close some of the gaps that summative assessments have including:
+ Measures interim student growth providing the ability to inform school-year instruction
+ Links to earlier state or state-approved assessments so as to provide multi-year growth and proficiency data
+ Provides data on students who are above or below grade level
+ Provides comparisons between old and new scores
+ Tracks student performance under CCSS now (no need to wait until 2015/16 or later)
The value interim assessments bring to the dialog in helping educators measure student growth while state assessments (similar to NY and KY) show a drop in proficiency can help provide and demonstrate student success under the Common Core.