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Howard Blume reports today that the achievement gaps among children of different groups widened on the Smarter Balanced Assessment tests whose results were just reported.
The tests are “harder,” “more rigorous,” and so the students who already had low scores have even lower scores.
This is akin to raising the bar in a track event from 4 feet to 6 feet. Those who couldn’t clear the 4 foot bar will certainly not clear the higher bar.
If anyone remembers, we were told repeatedly that the Common Core would close achievement gaps between whites/Asians and Blacks/Hispanics, and between upper income/low income students.
It hasn’t, and it won’t.
The tests were designed to fail a majority of students of every group. Here are the cut scores for the SBAC tests. The developers predicted mass failures last fall.
Let’s just say that the Common Core and the tests aligned to them are a disaster for American education. Kids don’t necessarily try harder when they fail again and again. They may give up.
Many people suspect that the purpose of all this manufactured failure is to make parents eager for charter schools and vouchers. They may be right.
“This is going to show the real achievement gap,” said Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers. “We are asking more out of our kids and I think that’s a good thing.”
At the same time, he added, “there’s no question that when we raised the bar for students that we’re going to have to support our lower-achieving students even more so than we are now.”
Although scores declined for all students, blacks and Latinos saw significantly greater drops than whites and Asians, widening the already large gap that was evident in results from earlier years, according to a Times analysis.
Under the previous test, last given to public school students two years ago, the gap separating Asian and black students was 35 percentage points in English. The gap increased to 44 percentage points under the new test. Asian students’ results dropped the least on the new tests, which widened the gap between them and those who are white, black or Latino, the analysis showed.
White students also maintained higher relative scores than their black and Latino peers.
A similar pattern occurred with students from low-income families. Their scores in math, for example, declined at a steeper rate (51%) than those of students from more affluent backgrounds (16%). In the last decade, all ethnic groups made significant academic gains compared to where their scores started. But the gap separating the scores of blacks and Latinos from whites and Asians changed little….
In that subject, 69% of Asian students achieved the state targets compared to 49% of whites, 21% of Latinos and 16% of blacks.
Although even Asian students have room to improve, their relative performance stood out. In math, the percentage of Asians who met state targets declined 12%. White students went down 21%, Latinos 50%, black students 54%. More than half the students who took the test were Latino.
The future of California, Lucia said, will depend on students of color graduating from schools with the skills they need to succeed in college and careers.
A top-performing school district was San Marino Unified, which is located in a mostly high-income area and enrolls 56% Asian students; 84% of students met state learning goals in both English and math.
L.A. Unified, which enrolls a majority of low-income, minority students, fared much worse overall. Achievement gaps widened less in L.A. Unified than in the state as a whole but that’s largely because its white and Asian students declined more, according to the analysis.
In L.A. Unified, 67% of Asian students met state targets in English, compared to 61% of white students, 27% of Latinos and 24% of black students.