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Idaho Smarter Balanced Test Scores Largely Beat State's Projections


Idaho students outperformed education officials' expectations on the Smarter Balanced exam aligned to the Common Core State Standards, according to test scores released by the state education department July 1.

The state released preliminary proficiency rates on the English/language arts and math exams for students in grades 3-8 and 11, as well as what the state department had projected would be the proficiency results for each grade. Except for high school juniors' results on the Smarter Balanced math exam, students beat projections.

According to information released by the state, here's how statewide English/language arts scores compare to projections:

IdahoELA.PNGAnd here's the information for statewide scores on the math exam, compared to projections:


States are touting Smarter Balanced tests, along with other common-core-aligned assessments, as more rigorous exams that will provide more accurate information about students. So one immediate question is, just how do these results stack up to previous Idaho statewide test results?

Before I answer that, there's a huge caveat you need to keep in mind. As my colleague Catherine Gewertz reported recently about how to report on and discuss common-core-test scores, despite the big temptation to make straightforward comparisons between common-core exams and previous tests, the comparisons are of limited value and can be easily misused. Why? They don't tell you anything about students' progress over time, and the two sets of exams are substantially different. 

With that said, here's a link to statewide results in reading and math from the Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) from the 2012-13 school year. You can check out the proficiency rates by grade level in those two subjects. (The state did not report ISAT results from the 2013-14 school year because the state was not required to report test data from that year, according to department spokesman Jeff Church, so I'm using the next-most-recent statewide results. In 2013-14, the state participated in field-testing of the Smarter Balanced test.)

You can see, for example, that on the 2013 ISAT reading exam, 89 percent of 3rd grade students achieved proficiency, compared to the 48 percent of 3rd graders who did so on the Smarter Balanced English/language arts exam this past spring. 

Idaho followed Kentucky's example from 2012 of creating projected proficiency scores as a basis for discussing common-core test scores. 

UPDATE: Washington state also released preliminary scores from the Smarter Balanced exam on July 2. One early theme is that high school math seems to be a place where students are struggling compared to projections, or in Washington state's case, compared to field test results from last year. Oregon also released preliminary scores on July 2, and noted that when the state releases final scores, they're expected to drop. 

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