Cheers, jeers, and chandeliers: Assessment edition

Cheers, jeers, and chandeliers: Assessment edition

By Dale Chu


The assessment-related news keeps on coming! Here are some noteworthy happenings in three states:


Arkansas — Add another state to the list of five that are “doing it!” Last month, Arkansas reported that 97 percent of students participated in state assessments. Astute readers will remember that the state earned a perfect score on our State Assessment Power Rankings, in no small part because of their commitment to testing as many students as possible amid the pandemic.


Colorado —Participation rates in my home state dropped 20 to 30 percentage points, with the steepest declines among Black and Hispanic students. To wit, less than sixty percent of eighth graders participated in the state’s math assessment. This is a problem because low participation makes it more difficult to draw conclusions from the data or to set policy. But Colorado’s predicament should come as little surprise given the state’s baby-splitting approach and lukewarm commitment to state assessments.


Indiana — Chandeliers symbolize the sun, and, in the same vein, Hoosiers continue to shine a light on how to approach testing and recovery.

Last month, Indiana released proficiency and growth data. Recently, the state released their analysis of instructional mode data. Notably, the state’s analysis confirms conventional wisdom that student performance is strongest when students are learning in the classroom full-time.


This news comes on the heels of an important analysis by education expert Damian Betebenner et al. about what we’re learning from state summative assessment data from Spring 2021. Two findings are particularly noteworthy. The first is that in looking across the country, experts have observed effect sizes two to four times as large as those associated with Hurricane Katrina. The second is that unlike the interim assessments we’ve leaned on during the crisis—which show the most impact upon elementary students—state summative exams demonstrate larger and more uniform impacts across all grades.

You could say that a new “honesty gap” has developed: one between local interim exams and large-scale state testing. More on this in future posts, but this gap will be worth keeping in mind as some states invariably line up for another round of federal testing waivers.

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