The used-to-be-counted-as-something-but-don’t-matter-this-year standardized test scores from Spring 2013 are now available to view. But don’t attempt any analysis unless you have a few extra hours to compile your own spreadsheets.
The standardized testing ritual is firmly entrenched in public education. Even as the national debate continues to rage about high-stakes tests and their impact on children, teachers, and school communities.
In years past, test scores were released in the days prior to the beginning of the school year. The big “who failed AYP (adequate yearly progress)” media coverage began, and all talk of progress or improvement was drowned out by the larger “failing schools” dialogue.
With the passage of the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA) this year, those test scores became even more high-stakes due to the availability of tax credits and scholarship money for families of children attending “failing schools” as defined by the AAA.
Oddly, though, at the same time test scores became more crucial for those at the bottom of the list here in Alabama, the ALSDE received news of their success in requesting a waiver from the rigid provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). That waiver came just weeks after Spring testing concluded in our public schools. Alabama’s schools would no longer be graded on a pass/fail basis.
So do test scores matter this year?
Much effort is put into yearly testing. This year, teachers and students were under the impression that those test scores would matter very much, as they always had previously. But because the AYP pass/fail provision no longer exists, those test scores were not released to the public with the same fanfare as in years past. Which means that teachers and students who worked so very hard to perform well on those tests were left with a big…….nothing……to show the results of their hard work.
Those of us who monitor test scores and trends had hoped for a timely release of those scores in the same manner as years past. We, too, have been left hanging.
And just as I was about to write the “where the heck are test scores” article, I took a chance and looked at the ALSDE’s Accountability portal last Friday. Lo and behold, there they were. Online.
No news release. No notice to the press. Just quietly placed online for someone to find them.
So you can view them, but don’t get excited about downloading the Excel spreadsheets or attempting any trend analysis. None of that is possible with what is being made available online. Likely an Open Records Request would produce the data, but why wasn’t it just placed online as it had been in years past?
If you’d like to find the scores yourself, here’s a quick how-to tutorial.
I plan to wait on the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA) to produce their brilliant series of test score analyses. Hopefully PARCA was made aware of the availability of the data and have already been given access to the full set. I will keep my eyes open for PARCA’s 2012-2013 analysis and will post a link here when it becomes available.
Seems a shame to put all that work into standardized tests and then just quietly roll them out. I suppose they have their reasons.
Looking only at 4th Grade Math for the entire state (full image below), it looks like students may have backslid just a little. While I am tempted to begin typing numbers into spreadsheets, I believe I will be patient and wait to hear from PARCA. Check out the previous video if you want to attempt it yourself.