Education Week - May 20, 2015 - (Page 8)

BLOGS 'Why State Test Results Don't Tell the Real Story' | CURRICULUM MATTERS | It's been five years since states began adopting the common core. But many faces have changed since then in the big chairs occupied by the governors, state commissioners, and state board members who gave it the green light. That's why two Washingtonbased groups think it's time for a refresher course. The name of the course could be "Why State Test Results Don't Tell the Real Story," or more bluntly, "State Tests Lie." Backers of the Common Core State Standards have been trying to get this message across for years, using the proficiency gaps between naep and states' scores on their own tests as Exhibit A. Last week, those advocates released a report showing how most states produce much higher proficiency rates on their own tests than they do on the federally sponsored National Assessment of Educational Progress. The report was issued by Achieve, which had a central role in organizing the initiative to write the common core, and the Collaborative for Student Success, a foundation-funded group that works to expand support for the standards. The report separates states into categories according to the size of their gaps: "truth-tellers" have tests that produce proficiency rates closer to naep, and "biggest gaps" ... well, that speaks for itself. Here is an example of what Achieve and the collaborative call "the honesty gap." In 4th grade reading, Georgia has the biggest gap: a 60-point differential between the proficiency rates its own tests reported in 2013-14 and those that naep reported that year. New York has the narrowest differential, with only a 5-point gap. More than half the states have proficiency gaps of 30 points or more, the report says. The states named as the "biggest truth-tellers" are those that have "the political courage" to rework their standards and tests to ensure that students are expected to master material that truly prepares them for college and good jobs, according to a statement by Karen Nussle, the executive director of the collaborative. There have been many reports about how states set the bar low on their tests-lower than naep "basic" levels, in most cases-and that they did so, in many cases, to escape sanctions for low achievement that were written into the No Child Left Behind Act. So in a way, although the comparisons in the new report use more recent testproficiency rates, they revisit well-trod turf. But timing is everything. And with so many new state policymakers-all of whom could undermine the standards or their accompanying tests-common-core backers appear to be trying to persuade them that the better part of "political courage" is keeping standards, and cutoff scores, high. Gates Foundation Launches Website for Ed-Tech Ventures | MARKETPLACE K-12 | The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has launched Teachers Know Best, a website for companies that want to know what educators want in digital resources. The site consolidates research the foundation has conducted with 3,000 teachers and 1,200 students, organizing it by subjects like "opportunities," "product preferences," and "reports." More than 500 digital resources are listed, with information about what the product does, its ranking in the survey, the most frequently identified student benefit, according to teachers, and what students identified most often about the product's benefit to them. The four most important gaps in current product offerings, according to the foundation's research, are elementary language arts, middle school social studies, high school math, and all levels of science. (Education Week receives grant funding from the foundation to support coverage of implementation of college- and career-ready standards.) Award-Winning Principal to Quit; Cites New Teacher Evaluations | TEACHING NOW | Carol Burris, a nationally recognized principal and a vocal opponent of the Common Core State Standards, has announced that she will resign from her position after this school year, citing test-heavy teacher-evaluation processes as a key reason for her departure. Burris, the principal of South Side High School in -CATHERINE GEWERTZ & HOLLY PEELE Rockville Centre, N.Y., has been recognized by several state and national associations and was named the New York high school principal of the year in 2013. Known as a proponent of a rigorous curriculum, she's drawn attention for mandating that nearly all students in her school take advanced classes. In explaining her decision to resign, Burris said she was morally opposed to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to make student test scores count for as much as 50 percent of teachers' evaluation ratings. "I did not feel, in good conscience, that I could come back the following year and participate in that evaluation system," she said, according to a Newsday report. Provisions to create a more rigorous evaluation system were included in New York state's recently passed budget legislation. While Cuomo had originally proposed making student performance count for half of a teacher's evaluation, the details of the new system have yet to be fleshed out, though test scores are expected to be a central component. -MICHELE MOLNAR Once a supporter of the common core, and even a coauthor of a book on working with the standards in schools, Burris has become an oft-cited critic of the framework, arguing that it is unclear, untested, and overly complicated. Though she is leaving her school position, Burris is not expected to retire from the K-12 scene. She said she plans to devote more of her time to fighting the changes she sees as harmful to education, including the standards and the new teacher-evaluation system. -JORDAN MOENY EXTRA! EXTRA! NEED EXTRA COPIES OF QUALITY COUNTS 2015? ORDER MORE ONLINE: TOLL-FREE:1-800-445-8250 Order the digital edition for immediate download: Back issues of prior years are also available. 8 | EDUCATION WEEK | May 20, 2015 |

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 20, 2015

Education Week - May 20, 2015
Gifted Programs Miss Disadvantaged Students
Army of Scorers Tackles Common-Core Tests
Groups Aim to Smooth Student-Police Relations
U.S. Senate Proposal Puts Spotlight On ‘Open Educational Resources’
Civil Rights Data Detail Increase In Complaints
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Accountability Measures for Traits Like ‘Grit’ Questioned
Long-Term Gains Seen for Kids Who Move Out of Poverty
Blogs of the Week
Selective Public Schools Struggle to Diversify Enrollments
Illinois Policymakers Scramble After Pension Law Struck Down
Student-Data Use a Key Issue In Debates Over Privacy Bills
Blogs of the Week
Why Not Practice What We Preached?
Education Has to Be a ‘Human Business’
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Making the Right Commitment to Student-Data Privacy
Is the Public Ever Really Private?

Education Week - May 20, 2015