So, you prepared for the SBAC last year, administered the test, and are now thinking about the data that will be placed before you when you return as a staff for the 2015-2016 school year. Perhaps, you even read some pieces about the graduation cut score being lowered or watched OSPI’s press conference on the release of scores on Monday. Like many that I have talked to, you are probably a little, if not a lot, confused by all the numbers and eduspeak being tossed into the conversation.
But, if you’ll lend me your ears, for but a moment, I want to clarify what I have learned in my research about cut scores, participation rates, and general outcome of the first official round of SBAC testing in Washington state. You’re probably not a geek like me who has been combing the State Board of Education minutes since January to find out when and how graduation cut scores will be determined or streaming OSPI’s test scores release in the doctor’s waiting room on your phone. I hope that this information can help you not only interpret your next move, but also help you educate your colleagues, neighbors, friends, and families. It’s true that we generally scored better than expected on the field tests, with a few outliers.
There are 4 levels on the test: level 1, level 2, level 3, and level 4.
Level 1 and 2 mean that a student is most likely not college and career ready. Level 3 and 4 mean that a student is likely college and career ready. Around a 2.5 is where Washington State has deemed a student proficient for high school graduation. When talking about “College and Career Ready”, this phrase applies to more than just the SBAC test. That is merely one piece of the puzzle. Listen/Read carefully when that phrase is thrown around in conversation. What piece of college and career ready is the speaker referring to?
The Graduation Cut Score for high schoolers is lower than the College and Career Ready Cut Score. No, that’s not really lowering the standards.
Before you jump to dismay at “lowering” the standards, consider this. We’ve known about the lower graduation cut score since the State decided that the 10th grade Exit Test would be the same test as the SBAC test. The SBAC test is given in the 11th grade since the Common Core State Standards extend to the upper grades and is one measure of being “college and career ready”. For ELA, graduation is 2548. For math, graduation is 2595. It can move in the coming years.Two things are happening. One, the students are taking a test meant for students who have one more year of school under their belt. Two, the State Board of Education took what is called an “Equal Impact Approach” in setting the score. These current students have not had a “career full of common core access” so meeting the new standard doesn’t make sense. If we were Samantha of Bewitched, we would twitch our nose and students would instantly acclimate. Ultimately, the goal is that all students will be at level 3 (starts at 2583 in ELA and 2628 in Math). But, we also want to make sure that students have opportunities to meet graduation requirements. If we wait until 11th grade year, they won’t see their first test until Spring of junior year.
The SBAC can provide placement opportunities in Washington colleges.
Washington has led the way, actually, in linking the SBAC test to college placement.with other states creating similar agreements. As an example of increased access, a student who scores a 4 on the SBAC Math test, will be able to take “any entry college level math course through pre-calculus I” without sitting for their placement test. To see more specifics, check out page 2 of this letter. Newly announced at Monday’s press conference, at least to me, is that the 10th grade test scores will count for these placements; not just 11th graders taking the test. This means Running Start students will have more options for how to qualify into their Running Start courses.
10th graders only took the English Language Arts test. Math graduation test is still most likely being met by an EOC (End of Course) exam.
It’s important to know that the 10th grade class last year (Class of 2017) only sat for the English exam. This is due to the elimination of the HSPE. (Note: HSPE still exists as a graduation test for this year’s seniors…Class of 2016.) Both the Class of 2016 (last year’s juniors) and the Class of 2017 (last year’s sophomores) took the SBAC ELA. Basically, the ELA test is the first dip in the pool for Washington using the SBAC as a graduation test. There is debate in the public forum, government forum, and from Randy Dorn on whether this test is an appropriate test for graduation requirements. Passing the 11th grade SBAC math is technically an option for graduation test for any student currently enrolled in school. It’s just more likely that they will pass the EOC math, and at high school, their first crack at the SBAC math doesn’t happen until the Spring of their 11th grade year. When will SBAC math be the graduation test for our students? That begins with the Class of 2019, or this year’s freshmen. So, if you teach 9th graders this year, you’ll see that students most likely aren’t getting pulled for a math EOC in the spring.
Graduation cut scores were set by the State Board of Education and were based on 10th grade scores.
Commonly referred to as the Opt-Out Movement, students who did not sit for the SBAC were marked as “refusal” in the test system. You may have seen headlines about how the opt-out movement wasn’t as high as expected. Hopefully, you were a close reader and paid attention to the fact that it wasn’t very high in “grades 3-8”. The hardest impact came with our grade 11 students, while our 10th graders largely participated. When it came time to set a graduation score, the State Board of Education chose to look at 10th grade scores in ELA because the data showed higher participation and implicit motivation as a graduation test whereas 11th graders scores dipped significantly due to opt-outs and a lack of motivation. The test simply existed for schools to use in their AYP when it came to 11th graders. What about math; they didn’t have 10th graders testing? For now, they’ve chosen to set the score around a 2.5, similar to ELA performance, with the agreement that this is very much a transition cut score.
AYP for high school is more complicated and is set by 11th graders testing. Opt-Outs do impact AYP.
Yes, the 10th graders who took the ELA test technically took the SBAC. But, the AYP test year is now the 11th grade year in high school. Clear your mind of 10th grade and HSPE. Only the 11th grade scores and participation are part of a school’s AYP. For students who opted out of the test at 11th grade, their score was a zero that got averaged into the other 11th grade test takers. Remember back when 9th graders could take the WASL, or maybe HSPE, early to see if they could pass and not worry about it 10th grade year? The school would then bank any passing 9th grade score into the next year’s 10th grade cohort. That’s where we are at again, except it’s not an optional “take the test a year early” and it’s the banking of 10th grade scores for their 11th grade year. If a student in 10th grade takes the ELA SBAC and passes with a 3 or a 4, they will not need to test their 11th grade year. Their score will be banked for the school in the following year, when that student is an 11th grader.
Our state-wide participation rate is below 95%, but what, if anything, the Feds will do about it, is unknown.
Part of federal money and impact is having a participation rate of 95% across the board. While our 3-8 exceeded this rate, the opt-out movement significantly impacted our 11th grade participation rate. Remember, those 10th graders testing in ELA don’t count for participation or AYP. They were taking the test so they could get a first chance at their graduation test. Looking at the chart, you can see that a 53.3% participation in ELA and a 49.6% participation rate in math when averaged with grades 3-8 brought our participation rate below the 95% requirement. Here we will have to wait until the Feds decide the implication. It’s worth listening to Randy Dorn discuss in the teleconference here, with more at the 39 minute mark during the Q&A.
- There is a bit of a lag in the graduation versus AYP, that I’m still wrestling with for students. If a student in 10th grade passes the graduation score in the 2.5-2.9 range, they will still need to sit in 11th grade because they need to meet the AYP/College and Career Ready Score of 3. I wonder about the motivation for these students.
- At the press conference, it was stated that the computer is smart enough to know when students are really trying and when they are just clicking. And, you can tell from scores when that happens. If you proctored a test, perhaps you have a personal experience with seeing a student click through a test in under 20 minutes. But, if the computer is smart enough to know, why doesn’t it stop the student and make them take it again? That’s what NWEA’s MAP assessment does: take too little time, you take it again.
- According to OSPI, parents will receive results starting the 2nd week of September.
- Currently, the ORS (Online Reporting System) and most Test Administration pieces are down for updates. So, if you haven’t found a way to look at scores, probably talk to your admin about seeing those results. Or, the systems should be up starting at the end of August/beginning of September.
* Slide Images taken from “Annual State Assessment Score Release” PowerPoint, August 17, 2015, OSPI, http://www.k12.wa.us/Communications/PressReleases2015/StateTestResults.aspx
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