Tuesday, October 13, 2015

State concedes error, says no intention to soften school testing standards

Posted By on Tue, Oct 13, 2015 at 6:50 PM

click to enlarge JOHNNY KEY: Acknowledges error in original portrayal of student test scores.
  • JOHNNY KEY: Acknowledges error in original portrayal of student test scores.
Reporting that originated in the Washington Post that was repeated here this morning said Arkansas had seemingly declared as sufficient a lower standard than anticipated by test designers on the PARCC student test administered last school year.

The state indicated that a score of 3 on the 5-point scale amounted to adequate preparation, or proficiency, when the test designers say a 3 indicates improvement is needed.

When I asked the Education Department earlier about this, they insisted there'd been no misstatement by the state because it had not used the word "proficiency" about its press release that emphasized 60 percent or so made scores of 3 on the test. But I noted the news release said students were on track.

This evening, Education Commissioner Johnny Key issued a statement saying that, while "proficiency" was never a word employed by the state about the PARCC test, the state had erred in the way it characterized test scores and said there'd been no retreat from high standards. I still hope to learn more about the production of the state's original news release and its emphasis on scores of 3. Such statements generally are carefully vetted.

His statement:

Upon review of the communication regarding the release of scores from the PARCC assessment, it is apparent that we used language that left a misleading impression that Arkansas was backing away from high standards. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the action taken by the State Board of Education on Thursday was adoption of the cut scores for the high school level assessments as recommended by the PARCC states.

Any assertion that Arkansas has adopted Level 3 as demonstrating proficiency is inaccurate. We fully embrace the higher level of expectations reflected in our standards and our assessment system, as these are critical components of advancing our K-12 education along the path to excellence.

Our description of Level 3 and above as reflecting students being "on track for college and career readiness" was in error. We should have then, as we will from this point forward, used the actual descriptions from PARCC to accurately reflect the performance of students at Level 3 as approaching academic expectations for college and career readiness.

To assist parents in understanding the PARCC results, we have prepared the letter below that explains the levels and what they mean for students. It is our hope that this information will generate robust conversations between parents and educators.


The chart shows why the state might have been reluctant to emphasize the percentage that actually met or achieved standards of the test. It's only a minority of Arkansas student — the 28 to 36% at level 4 and above.
 
screen_shot_2015-10-13_at_7.09.46_am.png
Key's letter to parents follows:

Dear Parent or Guardian,

I want to thank you for your ongoing dedication and encouragement to your child’s success toward achieving college and career readiness. I appreciate you for taking the time to understand more about your child’s education and the tests your child takes during school. It is essential to your child’s success at school and in life that you thoroughly understand the areas in which your child is excelling and areas that may need improvement.

Last school year, your child participated in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test. Your child tested in two main categories: Math and English Language Arts. The PARCC test replaced the Arkansas Benchmark and End-of-Course assessments that were given in previous years.

While only statewide test scores were released last week, you will soon receive your child’s Individual Student Report. To help you better understand your child’s scores, I want to provide some additional information about the results. Your child will receive a level of performance that ranges from 1 to 5 for Math and English Language Arts. The table below gives a brief description of each level of performance.

Students who score at Level 4 met grade level expectations, and those who score at Level 5 exceeded expectations. These students are likely to be prepared for success in college and careers.

Students who score at Level 3 are approaching college and career academic expectations for the knowledge and skills tested at the grade level; however, they will need support to reach Level 4 or 5. These students need improvement to attain college and career readiness. With your continued support, as well as assistance from teachers, students can be successful.

Students who score at Levels 1 and 2 will need interventions from parents and teachers to reach college and career readiness. If your child scores at this level, please contact your child’s school to assist in the development of an Academic Improvement Plan (AIP).

I also want to encourage you to visit the Understand the Score website at www.understandthescore.org. This site provides additional information about the PARCC results and what they mean for your child. I think you will find the video Understanding the Score Report on the website very helpful. To learn more about statewide results, go to http://www.arkansased.gov/divisions/learning-services/student-assessment/test-scores/year?y=2015.

As a state, we are committed to high expectations for our students. Regardless of the testing system used, we want to keep you informed and to work daily to improve the performance and college and career readiness of our students.

Table 1. PARCC Performance Level Descriptions

Level 1

The student performance demonstrated at this level did not yet meet academic expectations for the knowledge, skills, and practices embodied by the standards assessed at their grade level or course.

Level 2

The student performance demonstrated at this level partially met academic expectations for the knowledge, skills, and practices embodied by the standards assessed at their grade level or course.

Level 3

The student performance demonstrated at this level approached academic expectations for the knowledge, skills, and practices embodied by the standards assessed at their grade level or course.

Level 4

The student performance demonstrated at this level met academic expectations for the knowledge, skills, and practices embodied by the standards assessed at their grade level or course.

Level 5

The student performance demonstrated at this level exceeded academic expectations for the knowledge, skills, and practices embodied by the standards assessed at their grade level or course.


Please know that we are committed to helping your child achieve college and career readiness. If we can be of assistance, please contact us at (501) 682-4558.

With warmest regards,

Johnny Key
Commissioner of Education 

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Speaking of...

  • Group hopes to move giant telescope to Northwest Arkansas

    April 25, 2017
    A non-profit group devoted to science education has announced their plan to move one of the largest refracting telescopes in the America to Northwest Arkansas. They are currently fundraising to cover the moving costs for the vintage telescope, which they hope to make the centerpiece of a science and technology center. /more/
  • Former state board of education chair Sam Ledbetter weighs in on Little Rock millage vote

    April 24, 2017
    Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff. /more/
  • The Little Rock millage question: taxation without representation?

    April 20, 2017
    Frustration with the state's takeover of Little Rock schools scrambles the usual political lines on an upcoming millage election. /more/
  • Battle over future of education in Arkansas far from over, lawmakers say

    April 19, 2017
    As expected, the tug of war between school choice advocates and defenders of traditional public schools played out in Arkansas’s 91st General Assembly, which recently concluded its flurry of lawmaking. /more/
  • UPDATE Attorneys for Ledell Lee argue they should be allowed to locate, test DNA evidence collected in 1993 as part of innocence claim

    April 18, 2017
    In a hearing this afternoon before Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herbert Wright, attorneys for death row inmate Ledell Lee argued that they should be allowed to locate evidence collected prior to his arrest in 1993, including a single hair and a Converse shoe with a pinhead-sized spot of human blood on it, for modern DNA testing. They hope testing can prove Lee's innocence by showing that the African-American hair found at the crime scene belongs to someone other than Lee, and that the speck of blood found on Lee's shoe does not belong to the victim in the case. /more/
  • What Asa's Executionpalooza has wrought

    April 16, 2017
    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence this morning in a full page of coverage in the New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of yesterday's flurry of legal filings and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols. /more/
  • State files argument to resume executions

    April 15, 2017
    The Arkansas attorney general's office this evening filed a 27-page brief with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asking it to lift federal Judge Kristine Baker's temporary injunction against all scheduled executions in Arkansas. /more/
  • Death penalty demonstration at Capitol today

    April 14, 2017
    The Arkansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty is demonstrating at the Capitol today against the scheduled state killing of seven men beginning Monday. They were met by a demonstrator on the other side of the issue. /more/
  • State drug dealing at issue as executions near

    April 14, 2017
    Drug companies object to use of their drugs in the seven state killings scheduled to begin Monday. The head of the Correction Department is unwilling to say much about the claim as a decision nears on a federal case to stop the executions. /more/
  • Death row inmates' federal lawsuit, day four

    April 13, 2017
    Attorneys and experts ventured deep into the weeds of the available medical literature on the drug midazolam today in federal court, where they are arguing for and against a federal lawsuit brought by Arkansas death row prisoners seeking to make the case that the state's abbreviated execution schedule — which would see seven men executed this month — would violate the Eighth Amendment and their right to effective counsel. Midazolam is a sedative that is the first of a three-drug cocktail the state plans to use to execute seven inmates this month. Today is the final day of four days of hearings in the matter. /more/
  • More »

Comments (14)

Showing 1-14 of 14

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-14 of 14

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • The plight of the refugees: Dark episodes in Arkansas

    Ernest Dumas reaches into history, some personal, for moments in Arkansas's view of refugees. It was brought to mind by the current crisis in Europe and the political divisions over whether the U.S. should respond to the needs of the displaced.
    • Sep 22, 2015
  • Arkansas Times Recommends: A Literary Edition

    Arkansas Times Recommends is a series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying this week.
    • Jul 1, 2016
  • Democrats name new House minority leader

    Rep. Michael John Gray of Augusta has been elected leader of the House Democratic Caucus, the minority party. He succeeds Rep. Eddie Armstrong of North Little Rock. He's a farmer and small business owner.
    • Sep 25, 2015

Most Shared

  • Former state board of education chair Sam Ledbetter weighs in on Little Rock millage vote

    Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.

Visit Arkansas

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Most Viewed

  • The Kenneth Williams' execution thread

    Kenneth Williams, 38, is scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. tonight at the Cummins Unit near Grady. If a court does not stop the execution, he will be the fourth death row prisoner to die over the last eight days in Arkansas.
  • Last words from Kenneth Williams: 'Finger Lickin' Good Fried Chicken'

    What's purported to be a final-words essay from condemned prisoner Kenneth Williams was distributed today by Deborah Robinson, a freelance journalist in Arkansas.  He reflects on his execution, his victims, reactions of inmates and big servings of fried chicken, which he says are given to all inmates on execution days.
  • Commission to hear about plans for Ten Commandments monument

    The state will move one step closer to a lawsuit on May 11, when the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission will hear the American History and Heritage Foundation's plans for a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the state Capitol.
  • Death watch includes a family reunion, arranged by a victim's family

    The execution of Kenneth Williams for his 1999 slaying of Cecil Boren during a prison escape remains scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight, though actions in state and federal courts are anticipated in the final hours.
  • Griffen asks probe of Ark. Supreme Court and AG's office conduct

    At a press conference today at the Doubletree Hotel just across from the Pulaski County Courthouse, Pulaski County Fifth Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen and his attorneys announced that he has asked the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to investigate the conduct of the entire Arkansas Supreme Court, and asked the director of the Arkansas Committee on Professional Conduct to investigate the conduct of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and several others in the AG's office, related to what Griffen and his attorneys claim were forbidden ex parte conversations between the Supreme Court and the AG's office.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

Slideshows

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation