How is Kentucky Handling Lower Test Scores?
On October 17, 2012 my "Get Ready: The Test Scores Are Coming," post was written in preparation for the release of the first test scores on the Common Core Standards. The Prichard Committee, along with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, did a lot of work preparing people in Kentucky for lower test scores; as it turned out, the scores were lower. As I asked earlier: why is so much effort going into preparing the public for lower test scores? One Prichard Committee board member, Franklin Jelsma, offered the analogy of what someone experiences when beginning to exercise at a gym. "When you first start exercising you get sore, and it can be painful, but you stick to it, the rewards are great in the end." There may be some pain when these initial scores are released, but I believe in the end we will see higher student achievement. Teachers and students need a period of adjustment to the new standards before we will see these increases. It is our hope that we will endure the initial pain and come out stronger.
I am proud to say that thus far Kentucky teachers, parents, administrators, business leaders and the media have handled this new information in a very positive way. It may be that folks in Kentucky have been dealing with test scores for so long that they just know how to respond and move forward, but the general reaction has been: "No excuses!" I have heard many say they realize the system is new and may need adjusting after this baseline year, but the bottom line is that folks are studying the data and looking for ways to use it for improvement. School leaders could easily have made excuses and blamed the lower scores on a new and very complicated accountability system, but, for the most part, that did not happen. Parents will be receiving student scores this week and we will keep you posted on how that goes.
Educators today are embracing data and looking for ways to grow. It is so important that we rally around them and support their efforts. Teacher bashing continues around our country, but it needs to stop -- now. Luckily, the majority of folks in Kentucky realize this and are taking steps to be part of the solution. The state Chamber of Commerce and The Business Champions for Education are among the organizations that have spoken out in support of the work of teachers.
Moving forward demands that we advocate for the support of our teachers - not spend any time bashing them. A major lesson from Kentucky is that a lot of proactive work must take place prior to the release of test scores. That work must begin with garnering support for the Common Core followed by preparing communities for the decline test scores might take during the transitional period. People must understand that it will take time for schools to move up the scale. As advocates, please get behind the work your teachers are doing in our classrooms!