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Study Suggests Common Core Initially Hurts Challenged Learners

Study Suggests Common Core Initially Hurts Challenged Learners

In the state of New York, before mandating that all students be judged on the new Common Core-aligned state exams, officials decided to let students take both the new and the old unaligned exam for fairness purposes.

Students would be able to use whatever score out of the two exams was the highest.

"In the case of algebra, many students took both the old and new exams within a few weeks of each other during June 2014. And that created a wonderful laboratory experiment to see how these same students—most of them eighth- and ninth-graders—did on these two different algebra tests. It also may have given us a troubling forecast for what tougher Common Core exams will reveal as they are administered in the rest of the country," said U.S. News.

According to the article, David Rubel, an educational consultant in New York City, examined the algebra testing data and compared the scores of different student groups to find that students with disabilities, students from low-income backgrounds and English Language Learners significantly under-performed on the new exams compared to the old.

Whereas students from higher-income families and without learning challenges passed both exams at approximately the same rate, students with learning challenges scored significantly lower.

For students with disabilities, "[o]nly 30 percent passed the Common Core exam, while 41 percent passed the old algebra exam. And there was an even more alarming drop for English language learners – especially on a math exam. Only 26 percent passed the Common Core version while 50 percent passed the old version," the article said.

In the national debate over Common Core, many have predicted that low-income and minority test scores would plummet at first and that the achievement gap would widen. One reason is that the new exams require more writing, even in math, and have fewer multiple choice questions. These early algebra results from New York confirm those worries, and are a glimpse into what the nation is likely to experience as Common Core exams roll out elsewhere.

Important to note, however, about the New York data is that while the Common Core exam was only administered to students once in June 2014, the old exam was administered to students three times that year, providing students with extra chances to pass.

Still, "new data from the state's largest city, New York City, indicates that the growing achievement gap is real. Among 54,000 New York City students who took both exams in June, 2014, 72 percent passed the old exam, while 56 percent passed the new Common Core one, as first reported in Chalkbeat NY. The majority of public school students in the city are low-income," the article said.

Read the full article here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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