Public Schools prepare Parents for Test Score drop

Officials with both Edgecombe County Public Schools and Nash Rocky Mount Public Schools are making parents of their students aware of likely drops in upcoming test score reports as a result of significant changes in statewide curriculum.

Earlier this week, both school systems released statements explaining the changes and how they will be implemented in the coming weeks. Based on their information, these changes are part of the State’s adoption of controversial “Common Core” standards.

From Nash Rocky Mount Public Schools:

During October, the State Board of Education adopted new academic achievement standards (also referred to as cut scores) to align the new assessments students with the new Common Core and Essential Standards curriculum. As a result of the higher standards, student scores across the state are expected to be significantly lower than in previous years.

Dr. Anthony Jackson, Superintendent, said the drop in scores is consistent with trends in other states, and with past re-norming of standards and corresponding assessments. 

“As with any major change in assessments, there is an anticipated drop in performance — as teachers adjust instruction to meet the new standards — and students adjust to the higher levels of rigor,” said Jackson. “We want parents to understand that this is a reflection of both the major shift in the rigor of the curriculum and the new testing process.”

The State Board of Education will approve the new accountability data for students and schools across the state on November 7. Schools will begin issuing individual score reports shortly after the State Board gives approval. On November 14, schools will host parent nights, during which school administrators and educators will speak with parents about the test scores.

In a letter sent home to parents on October 30, Jackson asked parents to carefully review the individual score reports. 

“Unfortunately, because these are new assessments, it is virtually impossible to compare this year’s performance to your child’s previous scores,” said Jackson in the letter. “Please see these scores as the baseline for your child’s performance moving forward.”

While proficiency scores are expected to be lower this year, the school district will also be highlighting school and district level growth data, which will give an indication of how students progressed, based on their performance from the previous year. Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools will utilize the growth and proficiency data to adjust instructional strategies to support the needs of students as they develop the skills to meet the higher demands moving forward.

For more information about the release of test scores, parents and community members are invited to visit the NRMPS website, www.nrms.k12.nc.us. Several resources are available, including sample score reports, frequently asked questions, and descriptors of each achievement level. A detailed schedule of upcoming parent nights will also be available on the website.

From Edgecombe County Public Schools:

As a result of changes in the assessment process and the implementation of a new curriculum, North Carolina student results are expected to drop significantly.

So that the assessment data can be properly aligned to the new assessment and the new curriculum, the North Carolina State Board of Education implemented new academic achievement standards in October.  These standards, referred to as cut scores, are a reflection of increased standards across the state and are an indication of the significant drop in student scores that the state is expected to see.

On November 7, 2013, the State Board is scheduled to approve the student data at its meeting.  Within two weeks by way of U. S. Mail, Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS) students will receive detailed individual student reports and a letter from Superintendent John Farrelly.

“Looking at historical trends for North Carolina, whenever there has been a change in the assessment tool, scores across the state have declined,” said Farrelly.  “With both a change in the assessment tool and the curriculum we are teaching in North Carolina, there is an expectation for scores to fall significantly.”
  
The ECPS system is being proactive by alerting the community that the scores will not be an accurate reflection of student potential.  The new Common Core curriculum that was adopted by North Carolina is indicative of increased rigor.  As teachers modify instruction relative to the new standards, students across the state are likewise adapting to the new testing model.

It is imperative that parents not compare their students’ data with those of previous years, as the comparison is inaccurate.  As is typical moving forward after changing assessments, student scores generally incline. 

“We, as a district in Edgecombe County, will continue to focus on growing students and are committed to staying the course instructionally for student success and growth,” stated Farrelly.  “Our current emphasis on infusing technology into our content areas will prove to be highly effective.  We recognize that we have significant challenges in front of us to meet the new rigorous curricula standards. The new curriculum and assessments demand that we adjust instructional practices to provide more problem solving learning experiences for students. Despite the anticipated drop in overall scores, I am confident that we will continue to raise the bar for both teacher and student performance.”