Hawaii’s public school principals expect math and reading test scores to plummet next year, and they have an easy punching bag to blame: Common Core, set to be fully implemented in the coming school year.
Hawaii’s principals are required to annually produce academic plans for the forthcoming school year, which includes their benchmark goals for standardized tests. Out of 210 school principles, 98 predicted that math test scores next year would fall by at least 30 percent, while 94 predicted reading scores would fall by at least that much. One elementary school principle anticipated a 50 percent drop in reading scores.
Overall, 82 percent of principals expected stagnant or falling scores, and just 18 percent expected an improvement.
The key cause behind the widespread pessimism is the upcoming full implementation of the Common Core standards and an accompanying test, the Smarter Balanced. The test, which is currently shared by 21 states, is designed to allow better comparison between state education systems, which formerly all had their own tests.
The Hawaii Department of Education was quick to emphasize that the pessimistic outlooks did not reflect a belief that schooling quality in Hawaii was about to collapse. Rather, they said it reflected the implementation of a new, more rigorous test that could not be compared with past measures.
“With higher common core standards and new assessments, public education in a majority of states is changing,” Hawaii Department of Education spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz told the Hawaii Reporter. “Assessment results in Hawaii and many other states will set a new baseline, which cannot be compared with past years. ”
National education activists who support Common Core agree. Michael Brickman, national policy director for the pro-Common Core Fordham Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that reading any sort of educational decline into the principals’ forecasts was ridiculous.
“To say that this is a result of kids all of a sudden getting dumber, that’s like saying a baseball player who hits .350 in Triple A, gets called up to the majors, and hits less, is suddenly worse at baseball,” Brickman said. “With the new assessments, students are working to meet expectations that are tougher and are in line with our international competitors.”
However, Randall Roth, an author and University of Hawaii law school professor who has extensively criticized Hawaii’s education system, says teachers are unprepared for Common Core
“The centralized, top-down command governance structure has put so many mandates on principals and schools, they have not had time to prepare for the new tests. The mandates are overwhelming to the principals and school community,” Roth told the Hawaii Reporter.
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