Stick with the education standards: It will only get better

The News Tribune has a great story today on the new Smarter Balanced Assessments

Results for each school district and each school in Washington will be posted Monday on the website of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. (OSPI), District results will also be available on the News Tribune website at

But officials caution against comparing results from previous years with results from the tests administered last spring. That’s because students this year took a new exam, known as the Smarter Balanced assessment. It tested them on the Common Core standards, which educators deem to be more rigorous and more aligned with what will prepare students for college and careers.

Many states have adopted the same standards, and students there also took the Smarter Balanced test. That means Washington will be able, for the first time, to compare scores across multiple grade levels with others around the country.

That addresses a concern we noted in yesterday’s post.  We like this characterization of the new test scores.

But the new online tests measure skills including research, listening, problem-solving and how well students communicate.

Munson, who spoke to reporters Wednesday, says it’s best to think of this first year’s test results as “a brand new baseline.”

And a better baseline. 

Meanwhile, we note our neighbors to the south also struggle with career- and college-readiness. 

What percentage of Portland Public Schools high school graduates who enroll at a four-year university or community college have to take a remedial course to get up to speed?

The answer for Portland Community College? Of 333 recent Portland Public Schools graduates taking classes in the 2014-2015 school year, 74 percent had to take at least one remedial course that won’t count toward earning most certificates or degrees, according to PCC. Of the students needing pre-college help, most enrolled in an introduction to algebra or a basic math class, followed by remedial writing and reading courses.

As we wrote last year, Washington has a similar problem.

Of students who graduated from public high school in 2009-10 and enrolled in community and technical college in 2010-11, 57 percent enrolled in at least one pre-college (developmental or remedial) course — most often in math.33 These disappointing numbers must be foremost in policymakers’ minds as they consider important questions of education policy and funding.

The new tests – and the information they provide educators for improving performance – will help.