And Now For Some Data…

In an earlier post, I confessed that I intentionally ignored Common Core test prep last year as a way to determine whether my regular curriculum was doing the job. Well, the results are finally in…

This week, the state Department of Education released the scores of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress exam (my state’s version of the Common Core test) that juniors took this past spring. There was much hand-wringing that the new format would result in a data disaster, especially given the mess in New York, where 20 percent of students opted out of the latest round of testing and, of those who did take the test, less than a third passed the English/reading exam.

Out here in California, things were much calmer, with less than one percent of students opting out of the tests. Here, 44 percent of students met or exceeded the English Language Arts/literacy standard, which is better than New York’s 31 percent (to be fair, our East Coast friends took an entirely different exam) but it is still less than half of our students – not great, folks. Looking only at eleventh graders, the number of Calif. students who passed the ELA component jumped to 56 percent. In my district, that number hit 84.6 percent. And on the campus where I teach, that number was…drumroll, please…92 percent! Holy smokes! Individual teacher results haven’t been shared (and I’m not sure they’ll ever be released), so I’m going to go ahead and say I helped contribute at least a tiny bit to that 92 percent figure.

Now, this is actually a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that our kids slayed the test; the bad news is that this was our baseline year, meaning we’ll be measured by our growth moving forward. Also, I’ve learned to view these Big Data Announcements as mildly interesting, but not life-affirming. This year’s 92 percent will be next year’s 87 percent will be the next year’s 93 percent. C’est la vie.

But the ones foremost on my mind this evening are my school’s Eight Percenters. These are the kids whose needs aren’t being met. I teach in a well-to-do, college-educated suburb; most of my students will be fine simply as a byproduct of their fiscally and academically rich homes. There are eight percent of our kids, however, who are not fine. In my classes of 34 students, this statistically means two or three kids need much, much more than they’re getting. They should be the main focus of the data that was released this week. Yes, let’s pat each other on the back and celebrate great numbers, but let’s also quickly find those struggling kids and figure out what they need.

Teach on, everyone!

2 thoughts on “And Now For Some Data…

  1. Laura,
    What are your thoughts on students using data to track their own progress? I’ve been toying with the idea the past few weeks to give students ownership of their learning, and to give them the ability to visually see their progress. Have you done this, or if not, what are your thoughts?
    Thank you for your sharing and motivation that inspires and encourages me daily!

  2. Hey Jessica,
    I LOVE the idea of having students track their own progress. In fact, this is a significant component of my essay grading system, where kids keep track of how many grammar errors of a specific type they make in each of their major writing pieces and (hopefully) watch the rate of occurrence decrease over the year. I use codes to grade essays and part of the essay corrections process is for students to enter their errors on those tally grids. It’s an incredibly effect tool! If you’re interested, you can see more of my system here:

    Thanks! 🙂

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