Debate aside, Core a reality in classrooms _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Bains Lower Elementary kindergarten teacher Tonya Aaron goes through a math exercise, teaching her students about the number 7.

Common Core test results will be released in November, and there already is controversy bubbling around the scores.

The exams were given to nearly 320,000 students in the spring after months of arguments over the new benchmarks in reading, writing and math.

The state typically issues annual school performance scores, including letter grades, in October.

The timetable is different this time.

The Common Core results will be made public in November, state Superintendent of Education John White said Thursday.

The annual school performance scores, including always controversial letter grades, will be released in December.

But how the initial results should be used sparked disputes Thursday during a more than two-hour meeting of the Superintendents’ Advisory Council.

The 23-member panel advises White and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The tests were overseen by a consortium called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

One of the benefits of the exams, backers say, is the ability to compare how students in Louisiana did with their peers in other states.

How students fared on the assessments — such as 40 correct answers out of 50 — is called the raw score.

How those results translate into PARCC’s measuring stick is called the scaled score, which will be between 650 and 850.

Student scores will be placed in one of five categories: minimal command, partial command, moderate command, strong command and distinguished command.

White said the state’s vendor is in the process of converting raw scores into scaled scores, and those results need refining before they are meaningful to educators.

St. Bernard Parish School Superintendent Doris Voitier said it is “problematic” for superintendents to know the data is in and could assist educators now but is unavailable.

Other superintendents made similar comments, including DeSoto Parish Superintendent Cade Brumley.

Scott Richard, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, told the council that it is “unimaginable” that the state Department of Education would be withholding exam results that could aid teachers now.

White said in a text message after the meeting that a raw score “doesn’t portray a pattern or trend or overall score. It doesn’t give a cogent analysis as to how well a child did or how a group of kids did. But we’re going to look at what we can provide at this stage that is helpful.”

The results are a key part of the school performance scores.

“Some of our kids did well; some of our kids struggled,” White said Wednesday.

BESE, which meets on Oct. 13, is set to decide how the results are allocated across the five categories.

The state already has decided that the third of three categories — moderate command -—will be the minimum standard, or basic.

During the transition to the new standards, school letter grades can rise, but they cannot fall.

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