State delays release of English, math and science test results until later this year

Credit: Alison Yin/EdSource

In an important change, the California Department of Education is withholding the release of the results of the Smarter Balanced test that students took last spring until an undetermined date later this year. Results are subject to a one-month delay in the public release of state, district, school, and charter school English arts, math, and science results.

The rejection of EdSource’s request for the release of test score data comes at a time when educators are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on reading and mathematics, especially early mathematics. Publishing scores “later this year” means the public will know about spring test results for juniors, who are now in senior year.

The California Department of Education told EdSource that scores are currently pending, so they can be released at the same time as other data in the California Schools Dashboard, including student absentee rates, suspension rates, and chronic absentee rates. The dashboard details school and district metrics broken down by student demographic group. This data is used to identify underperforming districts in need of state assistance.

The state hasn’t said when it plans to release the updated dashboard, but if it’s released after November 8, Smarter Balanced results won’t surface as an election year issue. For both the race for the local school board and for Tony Thurmond State Superintendent of Public Education, who runs the California Department of Education and is facing re-election this year. Thurmond comments on test score release date I didn’t. That updated dashboard Released between November and January in the last few years.

Mary Nicely, Deputy State Superintendent for Education, said in 2017 the state board set goals for a comprehensive approach that would include combining the release of state test scores and other metrics with updated dashboards. said. “Like last year, we are on track to release the data. If we could get out sooner, we would,” she said. No. People are working hard to perfect the data.”

Thurmond’s opponent, Lance Christensen, said when notified by EdSource that the state had refused to release the score: “The fact that the department is currently unwilling to publish results in lower scores and suggests that the current state superintendent does not want to be held accountable for the results.”

The state sent a letter to school districts, county departments of education, and charter schools on Aug. 5 stating that the results were “not prohibited” and “encouraged to use the results in local planning.” Despite this, he refused to release his test scores to EdSource. Public meeting with the local steering committee. Maria Clayton, director of communications for the California Department of Education, reiterated in her Sept. 1 email to EdSource that the results were “not barred.” School districts provide individual student scores to parents, and several school districts, including Los Angeles Unified and Palo Alto Unified, publish their results.

EdSource, through its lawyers, sent a letter to officials at the Ministry of Education On Wednesday, we will demand immediate withdrawal of that refusal. EdSource believes the delay equates to denial as it effectively deprives the public of their vital role of overseeing the CDE and individual districts and holding both students and the public accountable. . this is especially important The COVID pandemic continues to be one of the most difficult and impactful times for our education system,” writes EdSource attorney Duffy Carolan of law firm Jassy Vick Carolan..

A five-page legal analysis challenged the CDE’s decision to withhold test scores. Access to this information. ”

Earlier this month, EdSource requested 2022 results from the California Department of Education under the California Public Records Act, including a breakdown by student group. EdSource analyzes the data each year to allow the public to see how their school scores compare to other schools. The last full-year results were for the 2018-19 school year.

David Loy, legal director for San Rafael’s First Amendment Coalition, said, “The state is tampering with verbal abuse by providing data showing test results to districts and refusing to release the entire data set. We cannot speak from both sides.” based open government groups. He said there are no exemptions in the law to allow the government not to release records because they are “inconvenient or embarrassing.”

Since California first released Smarter Balanced Scores in 2015, the Department of Education has consistently released them earlier than other dashboard data separately. Dates ranged from the last week of August to his first week of October. The exception is the 2020-21 school year, where results will be released with dashboard indicators in January 2022. Because of the pandemic, school districts had the choice of doing a local assessment or a Smarter Balanced test.district The total number of registrations is fLess than a quarter of the state’s students chose that option, and the resulting data were “limited in both scope and use,” the department said in a news release at the time. No testing was conducted in 2019-20 due to the pandemic.

Janet Weeks, communications director for the State Board of Education, said the board agreed that Smarter Balanced results will be released at the same time as the updated dashboard.

In a Sept. 12 denial, Clayton said the data were not yet ready for publication because “the review and validation process by the CDE and local educational institutions is still ongoing.” Premature release of statewide results “could mislead researchers, policy makers, and the general public” and “is therefore detrimental to the public interest”.

Especially this year Pushing back disclosure has implications. Based on national data, the National Education Progress Assessment, and results from the Los Angeles Unified, which released 2022 scores this month, results are expected to show a record drop compared to pre-pandemic 2018-19. Research shows that student learning was impacted by remote learning and the chaotic year due to COVID-19 that followed. Districts are getting historic levels of state and federal funding to fill the gap.

“Districts are currently working through multiple planning processes to determine how to invest in supporting teachers and improving student learning,” said executive director of student advocacy group Education Trust-West. As one Christopher Nellum said: “Delaying this data threatens to impede engagement as well as the effectiveness of investments the state has made in recent years, including funds to address the impact of the pandemic.”

T.sheThe Center for Public Education Reform says it is imperative to act quickly. Reports published this month“Academic, social and mental health needs are real, measurable and must be addressed quickly to avoid long-term consequences,” lead authors Robin Lake and Travis・Pillow writes:

Waiting until later this year to release how students scored last spring will delay a much-needed public debate about how school districts should respond to severe setbacks in learning. The timing is particularly troubling for early literacy educators as the state deals with the reading crisis. Before the pandemic brought all learning to a standstill, only 48.5% of her in her junior year tested Arts in English at grade level or above during the 2018-19 school year.

Districts first had access to their own Smarter Balanced test results in early summer, and have had access to authoritative data since early August. Several superintendents agreed there was value and urgency to share both individual district and statewide data.

“Los Angeles Unified, the largest public school district in California, urges the State of California to fully publish test scores each year to inform communities and help school districts meet the needs of the most vulnerable. “We are calling for immediate action,” said superintendent Alberto Carvalho in announcing the district’s data on Sept. 9.

Parents and school districts also benefit from being able to compare their scores to those of school districts and charter schools across the state and surrounding areas, Christensen said. “Districts want to get information from other districts about who is doing what and looking for best practices,” he said.

Gilbert Magalon, spokesperson for Fresno’s Central Unified School Districtsaid that a comparison of the results would be useful. W.We value receiving data about similar school districts and want to learn useful information as we strive to improve student academic performance. ”

Palo Alto Unified has released partial results for Smarter Balanced.rd Scoring the Language Arts of English — A report to the community on September 9 showed impressive results for all student groups. Superintendent Don Austin said the remaining results will be announced this week.

“Early literacy was our pre-existing goal, so it makes sense,” Austin said.Your math score doesn’t seem very strong. There is no context for statewide scores. Even without looking at everyone’s scores, I’m guessing if the score was good, bad, or somewhere in between. ”

Scoring as soon as possible is not only sound policy, according to civil liberties lawyers: of State laws governing the publication of public records, California Public Records Act.

Since the August 5 letter to districts, the department has also sent conflicting messages telling districts not to release scores publicly. Some districts contacted by EdSource present them to the board, others They said they plan to do so in October.

On September 15th, EdSource sent public records act requests to the state’s 30 largest districts, demanding Smarter Balanced results. Apart from Los Angeles Unified, who have already released a summary of their results, only his two districts, Sacramento City Unified and Lodi Unified, have responded with scores so far. Similar to LAUSD, scores showed significant declines in math and English arts compared to 2018-19.

After receiving EdSource’s request, the Anaheim Union High School District contacted the California Department of Education. The answer from ETS’s California Outreach Team, which represents the division, was clear. They should not be shared with the public. The public availability of the data is expected later this year. ”

The school district has also received communication from the department that the data remains in preliminary/draft status for the school district and statewide data is not yet final.Clovis interpreted it as “the data should continue to be treated as prohibited”.

She said the district is planning a public workshop in November when the data will be released.

EdSource reporters who contributed to this article: Carolyn Jones, Ashleigh Panoo, Diana Lambert, Ali Tadayon, and Daniel Willis.

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