Full or preliminary scores have been released for Connecticut, Idaho, Missouri, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. They all participated in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two groups of states awarded $330 million by the U.S. Department of Education in 2010 to develop exams to test students on the Common Core state standards in math and English language arts.
Scores in four other states that developed their own exams tied to the standards have been released. The second testing group, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is still setting benchmarks for each performance level and has not released any results.
Even when all the results are available, it will not be possible to compare student performance across a majority of states, one of Common Core’s fundamental goals.
What began as an effort to increase transparency and allow parents and school leaders to assess performance nationwide has largely unraveled, chiefly because states are dropping out of the two testing groups and creating their own exams.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told state leaders in 2010 that the new tests would “help put an end to the insidious practice of establishing 50 different goal posts for educational success.”
“In the years ahead, a child in Mississippi will be measured against the same standard of success as a child in Massachusetts,” Duncan said.
Massachusetts and Mississippi students did take the PARCC exam this year. But Mississippi’s Board of Education has voted to withdraw from the consortium for all future exams.
This chart shows which tests states use to evaluate students on Common Core standards.
“The whole idea of Common Core was to bring students and schools under a common definition of what success is,” said Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “And Common Core is not going to have that. One of its fundamental arguments has been knocked out from under it.”