Thursday, February 11, 2016

How Do PARCC, Smarter Balanced, ACT, and MCAS Compare?

If you've been wondering, the Fordham Foundation just released its new report called "Evaluating the Content and Quality of Next Generation Assessments." The authors write,
Approximately one-third of American freshmen at two-year and four-year colleges require remedial coursework, and over 40 percent of employers rate new hires with a high school diploma as “deficient” in their overall preparation for entry-level jobs.21, 22 Yet over the past decade, as these students marched through America’s public education system, officials repeatedly told them, and their parents, that they were on track for success. They passed their courses, got good grades, and aced state annual tests. To put it plainly, it was all a lie. Imagine being told year after year that you’re doing just fine—only to find out when you apply for college or a job that you’re simply not as prepared as you need to be.
That’s the crux of the “honesty gap”: families believe that schools are effectively preparing children for college and careers and are often astonished when, in fact, they struggle once they leave the high school bubble. That’s the rationale behind higher standards, whether you call them Common Core or something else, and the new attendant assessments. This new report compares how well four tests align with higher expectations for K-12 students:  PARCC, Smarter Balanced, ACT, and MCAS, the highly-regarded assessment used by Massachusetts that “serves as a comparison point or ‘best-case’ example for the solo state option."

The bottom line is that PARCC and Smarter Balanced receive the best scores for “assessing whether students are on track to meet college and career readiness standards.”  The whole report is worth your time.

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