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Almost nine years after Idaho adopted Common Core, state officials still can’t say whether the supposedly-more-rigorous education standards have made a positive difference. Worse, mounting evidence from across the country shows the standards are nothing short of a disaster.
I asked both Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherry Ybarra’s office and the State Board of Education (SBOE) to supply proof that the standards have worked. Ybarra spokesman Kris Rodine said ISAT test results are one measure that “Idaho students are making progress toward proficiency on higher standards of knowledge and demonstration of skills.” She stopped short of saying the standards, adopted by the SBOE in 2010 and ratified by the Legislature’s education committees in 2011, are working.
Results - Ybarra - Office - Years - ISAT-SBAC
But results seem to contradict what Ybarra’s office is saying, at least for recent years. The new ISAT-SBAC testing that began in 2014-15 has several years of data that reveal Idaho’s sixth-graders taking the ISAT in 2017-18 are less proficient in math, but slightly more proficient in English from when they were tested as third graders in 2014-15. Similarly, seventh graders tested last year showed a drop in their ISAT science scores from when they took the test in fifth grade. A deeper dive on ISAT results is needed to review different student subpopulations to better understand these trends.
For its part, the State Board of Education acknowledges that it doesn’t have the data to quantify student performance resulting from Common Core. The SBOE did note that scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show Idaho fourth and eighth-grade students aren’t doing any better on reading or math. Their scores are either stagnant or slightly declining. Fourth-grade students are doing better on reading than they were a few years ago, but current scores are about even with scores from ten years ago, according to NAEP.
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