Most parents of K-12 students in California don’t know much about the new standardized tests their kids are taking this Spring and they overwhelmingly don’t know that experts think scores will be lower because of them.
The 11th annual education survey (pdf) by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found that 55% of public school parents had heard nothing about the computer-based Smarter Balanced Assessment System being rolled out. Thirty-six percent had heard a little about them and 8% said they heard a lot.
The Common Core-like tests of math and English are replacing paper-and-pencil exams, which had more multiple choice questions and less critical thinking and writing. Other states that have made the switch reported a drop in student scores, but only 23% of the parents polled said they expected lower scores. Forty-two percent thought the scores would be the same and 29% thought they would be higher.
That could make for a lot of very surprised and disappointed parents when the scores become known. David Plank, executive director Policy Analysis for California Education, a research center based at Stanford University, told EdSource “the bar has been raised” on expectations by testers, so, “There will very likely be a number of students who won’t get over the new bar that did get over the old bar.”
A conflicted California made the switch to Common Core a year ago, after the Obama administration pushed it hard nationally. The change got a lot of publicity, becoming another punching bag for conservatives opposed to anything Obama, and those of a bluer hue who, none-the-less, had concerns about Common Core on its merits.
Still, 32% of parents knew nothing about Common Core. Forty-three percent knew a little and 23% knew a lot. They said the schools didn’t help. Forty-two percent of parents said they didn’t get any information from the school or district and 20% said they got something, but it wasn’t enough. Just over a third got some information and they said it was enough.
So how do these slightly bewildered public school parents feel about Common Core? They have faith. Seventy-one percent are “very confident” or “somewhat confident” that “implementing Common Core in California's schools will make students more college or career ready upon graduation.”
PPIC questioned 1,706 California adults from April 3 to 13, but broke out separate results for 355 public school parents in the survey. The margin of error for the parents was plus-or-minus 7.
As little informed as parents were about standardized testing, they knew even less about school funding, according to the survey. The state implemented a new system in fiscal year 2013-14, Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which allocates extra money to districts with more low-income students and those classified as English Learners. It also gives districts more control over spending priorities.
But 75% of adults in the survey, and 65% of public school parents, hadn’t heard of it. They did, however, like it once it was explained to them. Seventy percent of adults gave it a thumbs up and 73% of school parents approved.
Most people in the survey, 60% of adults and 70% of school parents, thought schools should get more money.