New York Releases Common Core Scores

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So purely in the interests of keeping your fighting skills sharp just in case some Common Core supporting crazy old man in a brown robe intrudes on the anti-Common Core cantina, note that a second state after Kentucky released Common Core test results. The results look eerily similar to what happened in Kentucky.

Those guys over there! They said something about cut scores!

Hat tip to Gotham Schools, here is what happened in Reading:


The math chart looks pretty similar. Proficiency rates, in short, crashed across New York and are now far closer to the proficiency rates of NAEP.

How did the old New York tests compare to NAEP? High middle and high in 4th and 8th grade reading respectively:


Note that neither Jay nor Greg have ever to my knowledge based any argument on the notion that Common Core standards were low or that the tests would be simple. Your humble blogger noted some years ago that even if the tests start out well, that he’d like to hear the plan for keeping them that way. I’ve heard realistic plans for states to pull out if (yes I heard you yell “WHEN!!!” all the way from the Raven Coffee Bar in Prescott Arizona-try the London Fog btw) the bad guys take them over but nothing yet on a broad strategy.

I’m, umm, not famous for paying close attention but my ears do remain open on that front.

Anyway the dummy down narrative however should be (at least for the time being) mothballed, as it is starting to look increasingly unsupportable by that pesky empirical reality stuff. Forewarned is forearmed, and you wouldn’t want to end up like, well, you know…

21 Responses to New York Releases Common Core Scores

  1. Greg Forster says:

    FWIW, I have argued that one metric of CC’s inadequacy is that it lowers our definition of “college ready” to below what is actually required even to apply to college. Also, both of us signed the “counter-manifesto,” which argued that CC sets standards below our international competitors. I don’t think any of that directly bears on the NAEP comparison, but since you raise the issue I’m mentioning it. I certainly never claimed CC was below where most states already are.

    What matters to me is the tendency of any “floor” we create to immediately become a “ceiling” as well. Exactly where we place it is less important, in my view.

  2. Matthew Ladner says:

    Based on the (limited) available evidence I’d have to say that the assertion about college readiness is well off the mark. Especially when you consider that the current standard in many states is only a bit above “can breathe through nose and mouth.”

    • Greg Forster says:

      Well, “can breathe through nose and mouth, and have accumulated a certain spread of classes on your transcript (which CC doesn’t require).”

      • Matthew Ladner says:

        A few years ago, Pima Community College’s President (bless his soul) pushed through a requirement that you have graduated from high school before being able to enroll as a regular student. His argument was that PCC was fundamentally undermining the Tucson Unified School District by encouraging kids to drop out of high school because they could always enroll in CC anyway.

        Needless to say, that scenario very rarely worked out for the kid.

  3. I’m not sure I get this, Matt. Are you saying we should stuff a sock in the argument that Common Core, if attached to real stakes, will be dumbed-down? If so, these first rounds of tests don’t make that argument. It is after these tests, once serious stakes are attached and punishments start to get meted out, that the dumbing will likely start. To carry out your analogy a little further, it won’t be until, you know, the Empire is highly motivated to strike back, that we will know whether the gutting is coming.

    • Matthew Ladner says:


      No I am not making that argument at all. My greatest concern all along is that even if the tests turned out as advertised that the process of doing high-stakes testing with a NAEP like test without much in the way of a state by state supportive infrastructure would prove highly problematic. That instinct was informed by reading about the history of the (low-stakes) NAEP and the experience with testing in Arizona, which had a state test that started with pretty high cut scores before a rebellion set in which hoisted its victorious flag over what at the time was the greatest dummy down in the history of the United States (since sadly exceeded by Texas in 2013).

      I am still concerned about where this may go, but the limited amount of evidence strongly suggests that the “CC represents a giant dummy down from the outset” narrative looks to have been off base by a very wide margin.

      Given the all too often colorful nature of the opposition I am seeing out in my neck of the woods, including arguments that every charter school in Arizona will have to close in 2015 and United Nations takeover stories, I fear that these arguments will continue to be made even as participating states field NAEPish tests.

      • Ah, got it.

        I have to say, I haven’t seen many people saying CC dumbs down from current state standards. (Well, in most states save IN, MA and CA). I have seen many saying CC is not truly benchmarked to the top performing countries, and that it ignores good content (especially literature). For these accusations I think there is decent evidence, though I don’t pretend to be a curriculum or pedagogy expert.

  4. Matthew Ladner says:

    Me neither, but the two tests we have out in the field now do look similar to NAEP. The few states that rock NAEP also rank well against other nations in the equating studies. Even if we take the college readiness standard to mean “ready for college without taking remedial classes” NY and KY seem to have hit that as well.

  5. Matthew Ladner says:

    If you google “Hanushek Education Next” you’ll find a link to a brief article that goes through this process, and then the brief article will have a link to a longer study. Peterson and Woessman were coauthors.

  6. Matthew Ladner says:

    Oh and for NY and KY- I’m not sure which consoritium they are in.

  7. So you’re not referring to equating studies specifically for the NY and NY tests, or SBAC and PARCC, but equating NAEP performance to international performance. Is that right?

  8. Matthew Ladner says:

    Yes- this is purely back of the envelope by a non-expert, but my impression is that NAEP’s rigor does fine again international tests, and the first results from NY and KY look pretty similar to their NAEP results.

    The double bar chart in the post is from a state test-NAEP equating study that shows that the Wall Street stock picking chicken could pass a number of current state tests with the right throw of the seed corn.

  9. Thanks for the clarification. I thought maybe I’d missed a study, and I NEVER miss a study.

    Mmmm. Studies….

    • Greg Forster says:

      Random Pop Culture Apocalypse: You just made me think of one of my favorite moments from one of my favorite movies, Robocop: “Ooh, guns, guns, guns! C’mon, Sal. The Tigers are playing [ba dum dum dum] tonight! And I never miss a game.

  10. Greg Forster says:

    It’s worth noting that CC has quietly backed away from the claim that it is “internationally benchmarked”; they now only say it is “informed by” international standards. Apparently their fingers were typing checks that their benchmarks couldn’t cash.

    • That doesn’t seem to stop supporters from making the “benchmarked” claim. What really gets me, though, is Stergios’ second point. Obama not only got involved with CC, both “Benchmarking for Success” and the CCSSI website called for federal “incentives” to get states on board with CC. CC supporters ASKED for federal intervention. But try to get CC supporters to publicly cop to that!

      • Greg Forster says:

        Well, once the people who are supposed to be responsible experts make the “benchmarked” claim, naturally other people with less expertise feel confident making it. The fact that the responsible people have quietly changed their phrasing won’t be noticed by the laypeople, who will continue to repeat the original claim – and who can blame them, since they have every outward reason to trust the supposedly responsible people who job is to know these things?

        “Trust us, we’re experts!”

  11. Patrick says:

    I feel your pain Matt. I’m now a “Common Core Crony” and “paid shill for Jeb” for trying to correct the record on Florida education reform policies when some anti-CC pundits went nuts. I never even said whether I was for or against CC.

    That said, a check from Jeb could go a long way in recovering on my moving expenses from Vegas… can you make that happen? 😛

  12. Lynnette Kirksey says:

    I will say up front, I am not from a common core state. Though it has been trying to sneak in another way. What is being presented to the public as rigor and standards is smoke and mirrors. The concern should be the change in the education model. The shift is now marketed as the “child centered/focused”. Basically, broken down, it means that children are to teach themselves and the teachers are to facilitate this. Children are to give their opinions to each other, discuss new concepts ( before teacher has explained anything), and make observations. The last thing that the teacher gets to do is actually teach the students and correct all the things that they came up with that were wrong. This begins in kindergarten. Group work and kids teaching each other in kindergarten. Students are not pushed ( per rigor not per teacher) to focus on the basic skills. Rote memorization is very low in regards to rigor. Teachers are to get students to answer complex, confusing, many times cognitively inappropriate ( think third graders doing Trig) questions that are multi-step and several sentences long. Some of that is okay for High School, but definately not Elementary Schools. Teachers are also to facilitate students to come up with similar questions on their own without having the full basic understanding of a concept.
    Direct example from a 6th grade ELAR script teaching students about prepostional phrases. Students are to receive a sheet with several sentences on it all containing prepostional phrases. Students are to discuss the similarities between the sentences with each other and “discover” prepositional phrases. Teacher must allow the entire class to present their conclusion (no matter how off) as to give every student a voice. This is how administrators want it done, forget memorizing the list of preps, the students can figure it out on their own. This is our country’s new education model, this is the number 1 factor in why we are failing.
    Teachers are no longer professionals and content focused education is no longer respected. I believe most administrators have the same sentiment as mine when in a meeting she pronounced “With this curriculum, I could get any drunk off the street and put them in the classroom and those kids would pass.” This curriculum could only be taught by the corner dealer because any educator worth their salt knows it is faulty. Sorry for any sp, phone is being difficult.

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