As Network advocates gear up for another school year, many states across the country have recently provided an update on student achievement through the release of state assessment scores. Outcomes of these assessments often vary year to year and state by state, and Network leaders are using the latest results to reflect on their state’s progress, as well as shape their advocacy agendas for the year ahead.
Minnesota: Highlighting the need for honest data
While the Minnesota Department of Education presented a positive narrative on test scores, EdAllies’ Krista Kaput points out that the report is not a clear picture of what is going on in schools. She writes, “Despite lots of numbers, the report skips over key data, fails to give readers clear benchmarks, and generally misses the mark on the level of transparency we need from our state agencies.” The report also lacks data on how well all students are being prepared for college and career opportunities. Kaput explains that, while it is important to celebrate successes, the state must also “have honest and open conversations about our shortcomings” to get the full picture on student achievement.
New York: Celebrating a closing proficiency gap in the charter sector
In New York, the data shows that NYC charter schools were able to make significant progress on closing the state’s proficiency gap between students of color and white students. The New York City Charter School Center’s executive director, James Merriman, celebrated the results: “These scores are welcome because they show, once again, that New York City charter schools are working. They are continuing to outperform schools statewide, and they are closing critical achievement gaps across New York. High results among city charters are indeed the norm year after year.” With the state’s charter sector growth likely on hold for the foreseeable future, advocates have used these test results to again raise the importance of changing this cap.
Tennessee: Reason for optimism, but more growth needed
With the release of the TNReady assessment results, Tennessee has a reason to be optimistic. The State Collaborative on Reforming Education’s (SCORE) president and CEO, David Mansouri, highlighted this in a recent post, saying that the data showed “historic academic growth for many districts across Tennessee.” However, the results can also be a call to action for advocates and policymakers. With only one-third of the state’s students meeting grade-level expectations in reading and writing, there is a need for “greater urgency and more innovation to deliver faster growth for students who are below grade level and increased support to help our teachers and students meet the state’s high expectations.”
Washington, D.C.: Achievement gap concerns persist
In Washington, D.C., two PIE Network members had similar responses to the PARCC test results. Both Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE) and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) District of Columbia celebrated the overall growth that the data showed. In a brief created for parents, PAVE pointed out the advantages of the stronger scores, and that “continued improvement means more opportunities for our young people and a stronger D.C. for all of our families and communities.” At DFER-DC, Deputy Director Jess Giles said that the test scores highlighted steady improvements being made in public schools, along with emphasizing the importance for strong education reform.
However, both organizations are quick to point out that important work lies ahead. Persistent gaps remain between students of color, at-risk, have special needs, or are English Language Learners compared to all students, and only one-third of D.C. students are considered on track to being college and career ready. PAVE provides a call to action for stakeholders at the end of their brief, saying they “need to be at the table with policymakers and school leaders to build a system of great schools for each and every one of our students, in every part of our city.”