24 Feb Houses, macarons, and state testing data
By Dale Chu
Earlier this month, we refreshed the Assessment HQ website to reflect student proficiency data and information on participation rates for the 2021-22 school year. An update to the press release was also issued, regarding the progress of students in math. Instead of calling out the slower rate of recovery in mathematics versus ELA, it’s more accurate to say that progress in math remains uneven across grade levels. Perhaps more importantly, state testing data so far suggests the jury is still out as to how fast and how far students have come vis-à-vis getting back on track. Indeed, one year of data a trend does not make.
Although the nation’s report card paints a gloomy picture, the newest K-12 assessment data from states helps to tell a more complete story of how things really are. But there’s still a lot of noise when it comes to aggregating information from individual states into a national narrative. In addition to using different testing vendors, setting different proficiency cut scores, and having different standards (albeit largely in name only), states—by design—don’t make it easy to do interstate comparisons.
Because of this variability, the data can get messy quickly. So it’s important to step back and ask questions. As Andrea Jones-Rooy has shrewdly observed:
Data can’t say anything about an issue any more than a hammer can build a house or almond meal can make a macaron. Data is a necessary ingredient in discovery, but you need a human to select it, shape it, and then turn it into an insight.
With this in mind, we can tell that, overall, 2022 marks some improvement over 2021. This is an encouraging, high level observation that we hope develops into a trend with this spring’s data and beyond. Testing season will soon be upon us, so keep your eyes on this space for the latest news. In the meantime, take a look at your own state’s data on our website and let us know what you make of your state’s academic progress.