State removes 15 years of test results before releasing new scores
California Department of Education officials have repeatedly cautioned against comparing students’ scores on past state standardized tests with forthcoming results on tests aligned with the Common Core standards. The academic standards have changed and the tests are different, making comparisons inaccurate, they and others have warned.
Earlier this month, as the department got ready to send parents the initial student scores on the new tests sometime over the next few weeks, department officials deleted old test results going back more than 15 years from the most accessible part of the department’s website, impeding the public’s ability to make those comparisons.
The department has removed results dating back to 1998 in math and English language arts from DataQuest, the website where it posts education data it collects. That includes the database of the Standardized Testing and Reporting program, known as STAR, which enabled the public to search results by district, school and student subgroups from grades 3 through 12 since 2003.
Currently, the only test score results that remain on the site are those from science and history tests, which have not changed because the state academic standards in those subjects remain the same. For individuals adept with Excel spreadsheets, the data do remain available as downloadable research files, which can be found here.
On Monday, the department said it removed the data in order to comply with the 2013 state law that set the timetable for ending tests measuring performance under the old state standards and starting new Smarter Balanced tests in math and English language arts aligned with the Common Core. The new tests in California have been named the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP.
The 2013 law, sponsored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and backed by the State Board of Education, forbids state agencies and local districts from comparing results of the two different tests (see page 6 of Education Code document for precise wording of EdCode 60641(a)(2)). The law says the California Department of Education and local school districts “shall not use a comparison resulting from the scores and results” of the new tests “and the assessment scores and results from assessments that measured previously adopted content standards.”
The law says nothing about whether the old test results should be made available to the public.
On Wednesday, state Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley issued an additional statement saying the education department removed the data to “avoid confusion” regarding the new California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress System.
“DataQuest is a living, breathing database that we periodically update so that it provides the most relevant information to the public,” he wrote. “We removed the STAR test results from DataQuest because we are soon going to put up the CAASPP test results and we want to avoid confusion because the two tests cannot be compared.”
Others criticized the move as an overreaction.
“The department did not have to bury the old test results,” said David Plank, executive director of Policy Analysis for California Education, a State removes 15 years of test results before releasing new scores | EdSource: