Thursday, September 20, 2012

Will Common Core Assessments be the Exit Exam

The are two elephants in the room with Common Core Assessments - the first is will the new assessments allow for and encourage 8th grade Algebra so that students are on track for AP Calculus and the second is using the PARCC and Smarter Balance Assessments as exit exams for High School.

The Curriculum Matters blog has a summary of the Center on Education Policy's report on high school exit exams. In addition, I saw this question asked at one of the PARCC meetings where they specifically talked about the scoring and how it would require additional work to ensure the assessments could be used as an exit exam.

The facts:

  • 9 states attach high stakes to exit exams now - only 2 did in 2002
  • 12 states say that college and career readiness is the prime focus of exit exams today while only Georgia did in 2004
  • 16 states are planning to replace their exit exams with either PARCC or SBAC high school assessments
That is high stakes. If the new assessments have a pass rate that mirrors NAEP does this mean that in 16 states less than half the students will be allowed to graduate? As a country we always fold when we get to a point of withholding the high school diploma so I don't see how this will work unless is it phased in and we realize the implications, give schools a chance to get students at the level they need to pass.