News

Keep up with the latest news on statewide annual assessments from across the country.

Connecticut sees “heartening” improvements in grade 3-8 testing

The Day | Erica Moser

September 9, 2019

This past school year, the percentage of Connecticut students in grades 3 to 8 who met the proficiency benchmark for math and English language arts on the Smarter Balanced assessment reached the highest levels since the test was implemented in 2014-15, according to new data from the state Department of Education.

How a Memphis state-run school improved math scores 9 percentage points in one year

Chalkbeat | Caroline Bauman

September 5, 2019

The numbers appeared troubling.

In the lobby of a Frayser elementary school, the first thing that greets parents, teachers, and students is a huge wall of testing data. Six charts show how each classroom performed last year on school mathematics and reading tests. There’s a line across each image, showing the level of expected growth. Each classroom surpassed expectations.

The Importance of Educational Assessment Policy in Shaping High-Quality State Assessments

Center for Assessment | Zack Feldberg

September 4, 2019

I remember my teaching days when I had to proctor state-mandated tests and prepare my students to succeed on those tests. When you add that time to the resources spent on test development and the efforts of school administrators and state department officials to execute the tests, the picture of a huge enterprise unfolds.

N.J. won’t dump PARCC tests until 2022, long after Murphy’s ‘Day 1’ promise

NJ.com | Adam Clark

September 4, 2019

Gov. Phil Murphy once promised to eliminate the state’s PARCC exams on “Day 1″ of his administration, but the controversial standardized tests won’t actually be replaced until after the next election, state officials said Wednesday. New Jersey plans to continue administering the exams, renamed the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments, through the 2020-21 school year, Assistant Education Commissioner Diana Pasculli told the state Board of Education.

Why did passing rates on state exams for English learners plunge in Virginia?

The Washington Post | Debbie Truong

September 2, 2019

The numbers appeared troubling.

During the 2016-2017 school year, 64 percent of English-language learners who took state reading exams in Virginia passed, according to state data. Two years later, passing rates plunged to 35 percent.

Elementary education test scores up, MDE report says

WWMT | Jake Berent

August 30, 2019

According to data from the Michigan Department of Education, elementary students improved test scores in English and mathematics.

Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) results showed gains in third, fourth and sixth grade English Language Arts scores and mathematics scores.

States With End-of-Course Exams See Gains in Student Graduation Rates, Fordham Report Finds

The 74 Million | Mark Keierleber

August 27, 2019

Amid a backlash over standardized testing, states across the country have moved away from requiring high school students to take end-of-course exams. But it’s a decision policymakers in those states may soon regret, according to a study released Tuesday by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

Zachary Parker: If you care about Black and Brown kids, trust they can learn

The DC Line | Zachary Parker

August 26, 2019

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced last week that the District’s 2018-19 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) results showed that our schools improved students’ English language arts (ELA) and mathematics performance for a fourth consecutive year. There are many things to celebrate within this year’s results — like double-digit gains at Ward 5’s Brookland Middle School, Dunbar High School, Langdon Elementary School, Langley Elementary School and KIPP DC College Preparatory — but we can’t ignore the inconvenient truth that roughly two-thirds of DC’s students are still below proficiency in ELA and mathematics.

NYC test scores inch upward as state releases assessment results

Chalkbeat | Christina Veiga, Reema Amin, and Alex Zimmerman

August 22, 2019

More New York City students in grades 3 to 8 passed their state exams this year than last, slightly edging out students statewide on English tests but lagging just behind in math scores, according to results released Thursday.

States Raise the Bar for What It Means to Be Proficient in Reading and Math

U.S. News & World Report | Lauren Camera

August 21, 2019

NEARLY EVERY STATE IN the U.S. has raised the bar over the last decade for what it considers grade-level achievement in math and reading, according to a new study from the National Center on Education Statistics.

Report: More states setting higher ‘proficiency’ standards on assessments

Education Dive | Linda Jacobson

August 21, 2019

The gap is narrowing between what states consider proficiency in math and reading — and the standards set by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), according to a new “mapping” study released Wednesday by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

DC students continue to improve on PARCC assessment, but massive racial disparity remains

WUSA 9 | WUSA Staff

August 20, 2019

The results from an annual standardized test were released Monday, and they were sure to make some parents in D.C. smile. The data showed that students in the district saw moderate improvements in both Math and English, despite the fact that massive racial disparities remain a major problem.

State test scores for 2018-2019 school year released by Mississippi Dept. of Education

WLOX | WLOX Staff

August 15, 2019

Tests scores for students across the state of Mississippi show that achievement in English Language Arts has reached an all-time high. The Mississippi Department of Education released the results Thursday from the 2018-2019 Mississippi Academic Assessment Program, which are the required English and math standardized tests taken by students from third grade up through high school.

Most Colorado students not proficient in reading and math — but there’s some good news

Chalkbeat | Erica Meltzer

August 15, 2019

More than half of Colorado students in grades three through eight didn’t meet grade-level expectations in reading, writing, or math on state tests they took this past spring, and glaring disparities based on income and race remain essentially unchanged.

Performance on state SOL tests dips across Virginia; Richmond-area students score below average

The Richmond Times-Dispatch | Justin Mattingly

August 13, 2019

Richmond-area students fared worse than they did last year on many state accountability tests, statewide scores released Tuesday show, as performance across the state dropped slightly. The share of Virginia public school students who passed tests in five core subject areas fell compared with 2017-18 rates, according to results published online by the Virginia Department of Education. The largest drop was history, where students scored 4 percentage points worse than they did last school year.

NM groups urge rigorous testing for high standards

The Roswell Daily Record | Lisa Dunlap

August 9, 2019

Two New Mexico educational policy groups are urging state leaders to choose student assessments that will maintain high standards and provide accurate and timely data to parents, students and school leaders.

How to be assessment literate, no matter your role

NWEA | Monica Rodriguez

August 1, 2019

A confident understanding of assessment helps teachers meet their students’ needs early, when it’s easier to close achievement gaps and pave the way to a long and successful academic career. Our 2016 post “Why we need assessment literacy as part of teacher preparation” touched on this critical topic.

Students score better on state tests this year

WSBTV | Steve Gehlbach and Craig Lucie

July 26, 2019

School districts around the state are pouring over results from this year’s Georgia Milestone Tests. Across the state, reading scores went up three points. Math scores were up one point for fifth-graders. For Atlanta Public Schools, the district saw their highest scores ever. Two years ago, half the district showed gains year-to-year. This year, it’s nearly 90%

O’Keefe & Lewis: New Report Shows 4 Ways States Can Innovate and Improve Their Exams — Even Without Joining ESSA Pilot Program

The 74 Million | Bonnie O’Keefe and Brandon Lewis

July 24, 2019

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education approved proposals from Georgia and North Carolina to pilot innovative models of student testing. When the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) authorized its special program for innovative assessments, many states expressed excitement and interest. But more than a year and a half after the Department of Education started accepting applications, Georgia and North Carolina are only the third and fourth states to take advantage of the program. Does that mean that innovative assessments are dead in the water?

7 Steps to Creating a Growth Assessment that Works

NWEA | Derrick Vargason

July 23, 2019

Thanks to high-quality assessments, teachers, students and families are able to see and celebrate heroic growth. Consider a fifth-grade student who starts the year reading at a second-grade level. In June, his teacher rightfully celebrates his achievements because he is now reading like a fourth grader—still not proficient but growing remarkably. We believe that is cause for celebration, and without properly assessing growth, that bright window might just remain shuttered.

New experiment could change how Georgia tests students

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Maureen Downey

July 23, 2019

Georgia is embarking on a pilot program that could end the high-stakes and high-anxiety testing students face at the end of each school year. Neither teachers nor parents enjoy the annual ritual that consumes most of the spring as classrooms shift to test prep and practice exams to ready students for the Georgia Milestones.

Students in California log on in record numbers to take online state tests

EdSource | Sydney Johnson

June 6, 2019

Despite a new science test that has increased demand on the internet capacity of schools, this spring hundreds of thousands of California students went online to take standardized tests aligned to new academic standards without experiencing major technical problems. The peak testing session for Smarter Balanced in 2019 so far occurred on May 7, when 683,673 California students logged in to take the tests from their laptops and tablets — a record number. In 2017, about 500,000 students went online at the peak of testing. That was still well below the capacity of the system, which can handle 1.75 million simultaneous users, according to state officials.

Tennessee picks testing giant Pearson Education to run its TNReady test

The Tennessean | Jason Gonzales

May 30, 2019

Tennessee wants to use testing giant Pearson Education to administer the state’s TNReady online assessment,” writes Jason Gonzales. “The state choosing Pearson indicates a departure from Questar Assessment, Inc., which has run into numerous troubles administering the TNReady assessment,” it “also marks the third vendor selected to run the state’s TNReady test, along with a familiar name in state testing.

The Value of Game-Based Assessments

Education Week | Tracey Lin

May 28, 2019

Countries around the world are trying to bridge the gap between what modern day economies and societies expect of their citizens and what their school systems are delivering. Education leaders and teachers recognize the need to update our education systems to better reflect modern-day theories of effective learning. Especially in high-stakes-exam-oriented cultures such as the U.S. or China, where standardized assessments are commonly used for academic or career advancements, studies show that teens (age 13-17) report to have even higher stress levels than adults. By normalizing the use of summative assessments as a screening tool, we are not cultivating future leaders, we are creating followers and exceptional test-takers. But now, there is an alternative method available to teachers that makes use of formative assessments and optimizes our students’ learning experience through fun.

Assessment Dashboards, Reports, and Open Analytics

Center for Assessment | Nathan Dadey

May 22, 2019

The results of educational assessments have never been more visible. Over the past 20 years, the reporting of state assessment results has shifted from oft-ignored printed handouts to publicly-available online dashboards and report cards. Parents, schools, and the general public have an almost unheard of level of access to data describing school performance.

Don’t Go Changing: The Importance of Stability in State Assessment and Accountability Systems

Center for Assessment | Scott Marion

May 7, 2019

“We just administered our third assessment in the past five years.” “That’s nothing; we’re on our fifth assessment in the past four years.” I wish these were fictional statements, but as one of the coordinators of a working group of state assessment leaders, I regularly hear stories like these from many of our 40+ state participants. There are many reasons for changing assessment systems, but most have been politically-based over the last several years. Changes in political climate and leadership can make untenable what were previously acceptable policies and practices.

Hear that sigh of relief? Online testing just finished in Tennessee – and it worked this time

Chalkbeat | Marta Aldrich

May 7, 2019

One year after frozen computer screens and spinning cursors left many of her students and teachers in tears, assistant principal Tara Baker is giving Tennessee significantly higher marks for its handling of state tests completed just last week. “I would have graded our state an F-minus last year, but this year was more like a B-plus,” she said of the state’s computer-based assessment.

Arizona unveils temporary plan for grading schools that ditched AzMerit testing

Arizona Daily Star | Brenna Bailey

April 22, 2019

Arizona has decided how it will adapt its hotly debated A-F letter grading system to assess over a dozen school districts and charter systems that ditched AzMerit this school year in favor of college-prep exams like the SAT and ACT. This year, the State Board of Education will judge student growth based on how specific cohorts of students, broken down by race/ethnicity, disability status, socioeconomic status and English-language learner status, performed on AzMerit, SAT or ACT. It will also factor in those cohorts’ dropout and graduation rates.

Arizona Schools at Risk of Losing Federal Funds Over Standardized Tests

Arizona Capitol Times | Dillon Rosenblatt and Hank

April 5, 2019

The federal government has threatened to withhold upwards of $300 million of Arizona’s school funding if the Arizona Department of Education allows schools to choose their own standardized tests for students. With bipartisan support, lawmakers in 2016 approved a law allowing school districts to offer a “menu of assessments” to choose from, such as the SAT or ACT, rather than one statewide standardized test, currently the AzMerit test.

What Makes a Good Test?

Forbes | Jim Cowen

April 5, 2019

Testing season is here—which means my wife and I can expect some natural anxiety from our two public school-aged daughters. I’d love to think that this would all be much easier if they understood how a good annual state test helps schools, districts and states know how well they’re serving students – including students of color, students with disabilities and low-income students. But, come on. Spoiler alert—nobody likes tests. Truth is, not all assessments are created equal, nor do they look the same. But when done correctly, state test results can be a powerful tool for monitoring and tracking student performance.

Overhauling Student Assessments: A View From the Pilot’s Seat

Education Week | Andrew Ujifusa

April 2, 2019

Can a new assessment for students help schools create a more “literate citizenry?” By trying to align tests more closely with curriculum and standards—while developing an assessment format that covers both English/language arts and social studies—Louisiana officials are working to develop a system they say is used successfully in other countries. And they say there’s no reason it can’t work here.

Students Should Take State Assessment Tests

Buffalo News | Editorial Board

April 1, 2019

It’s assessment time again in New York and the good news is that the number of parents pulling their children out of the tests is declining. That’s good for the students, the schools, the taxpayers and the state. Nevertheless, too many students still don’t take the test, despite the changes the State Education Department has made either to improve the process or to mollify the critics. The consequences can be generational. The fundamental problem is this: Despite the state’s high spending on public education, New York posts only so-so results. For the sake of students and taxpayers, the state needs to do a better job of educating its children. But you can’t improve what you can’t measure.

As State Assessment Season Returns, Signs That Opting Out is Declining – Slightly

Buffalo News | Barbara O’Brien

March 28, 2019

Most students in grades three through eight in New York will walk into their classrooms next week, pencil or computer keyboard in hand, and take the state assessments in ELA. But as has become commonplace, some will sit out, despite the changes the state Education Department has made in creating, administering and using the results of the tests. The opt-out movement, which reached its strongest point in 2016, has been weakening in recent years, but only slightly.

In Classroom, Tests May Change, But High Expectations Must Continue

Las Cruces Sun-News | Arcelia Guillermo

February 26, 2019

In the classroom, things can change in an instant depending on what else has happened in students’ days. As a bilingual and dual-language teacher in New Mexico for over 20 years, I experience this first-hand every day. Teachers learn to “roll with the punches” and make it work as long as there is a strong foundation. This skill will be critical as we face major changes over what assessments K-12 students will take, following Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s announcement that New Mexico will eliminate the PARCC exam. But also critical will be the state building on the foundation of high academic standards.