State Removes Old Student Test Scores from Database to Avoid “Confusion”

Friday, August 28, 2015

California lawmakers made it clear when they approved new Common Core standards for testing K-12 students in math and English language arts that new scores could not legitimately be compared to old scores in gauging achievement.

That sounds reasonable. But did the California Department of Education have to remove all 15 years of data from the online database?

John Fensterwald at EdSource said the information was deleted from DataQuest in preparation for a September 9 release of the first Common Core test results. Liana Heitin at Education Week said the information was still sort of available—in downloadable Excel files and annual press releases.

DataQuest still maintains historical data on student science and history scores because testing methods for those disciplines did not change. Nearly 3.2 million students in grades 3-8 and the 11th took the new tests for the first time this year. The tests are also called the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) or Smarter Balanced.

In a letter sent to parents and guardians on August 7, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson warned, “The scores should not be compared to results from the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program tests.”  

The department said it was following a state law passed in 2013 that says school districts and the department, “shall not use a comparison resulting from the scores and results” of the new tests “and the assessment scores and results from assessments that measured previously adopted content standards.”

That is a directive for agencies not to use old data in their official actions. The law, which updated the education code, does not comment on parents and nongovernmental organizations (including academics and education advocates) having access to the information.  

But Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley expressed the department’s concern in a press release that the old data would cause “confusion because the two tests cannot be compared.”

Bill Lucia, CEO and executive director of the advocacy group EdVoice, told Fensterwald the department purposely misread the law because, “Apparently the public and parents are too ignorant to understand or dangerous to be trusted with the facts.” 

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

State Removes 15 Years of Test Results Before Releasing New Scores (by John Fensterwald, EdSource)

Calif. Ed. Dept. Deletes History of Test Results Before Releasing New Scores (by Liana Heitin, Education Week)

Getting Ready for the Common Core-Based Test Results (by Sandra Oshiro, KPCC)

Parents Flunk Survey About New School Standardized Testing (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

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