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Arkansas's Recent History of Summative Assessments: Lies and Denial, Truth and Spin

Posted By Arkansas Learns, Friday, July 6, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Prior to 2014, Arkansas administered its own Benchmark summative test. In its final year, results said the following percentages of Arkansas students were Proficient/Advanced:

Grades Math Literacy  Science 
 3-8 Overall  72%  78%  47%
 3  84%  77%  
 4  76%  83%  
 5  68%  82%  57%
 6  73%  69%  
 7  69%  77%  37%
 8  64%  77%  


It was a lie.

In 2014, the state switched to the nationally-normed PARCC summative test.

Results showed the following percentages Met or Exceeded Expectations:

Grades  Math  Literacy 
3-10 Overall  24%  34%


PARCC told the truth.

In 2015, we opposed the State's changing its summative assessment from PARCC to ACT Aspire.

It did it anyway.

So, three years in, how is Arkansas and the state's largest district, which the State controls, doing on the State's preferred assessment?

Arkansas
(Percentage Meeting/Exceeding Readiness)
Note: Because of changes to the assessment's cut scores, the Arkansas Department of Education has deemed Literacy scores incomparable with previous years. So, we have only included the four categories comparable to previous years.)


Grades
3-10 Overall
7 9 10 
2016 Reading   38.87  35.13  41.38  33.64  45.64  36.19  48.29  36.23  34.61
2016 English  67.91  71.86  67.77  73.46  71.01  77.53  70.95  54.24  56.26
2016 Math  43.25  56.08  53.89  48.37  55.46  43.61  38.02  28.38  22.53
2016 Science  37.88  36.59  39.07  39.30  52.35  40.94  38.61  27.18  29.30

                 
2017 Reading  40.60  37.00   43.18  34.55  46.63  38.69  48.99  39.41  36.38
2017 English  69.96  73.15  69.66  72.43  73.96  78.58  73.27  58.46  60.13
2017 Math  48.23  59.53  56.27  53.28  62.91  49.44  45.24  31.51  26.20
2017 Science  41.63  39.20  43.49  42.81  50.06  45.69  43.39  33.47  35.11
                   
2018 Reading  NA  37.77  44.12  38.06  45.06  39.83  51.09  38.07  33.93
2018 English  NA  73.46  70.72  72.94  73.12  78.66  74.88  58.27  59.76
2018 Math  46.93  59.36  52.49  49.97  56.43  47.32  46.40  33.73  28.65
2018 Science  39.78  38.62  42.17  40.80  45.93  42.94  42.23  32.76  32.58
                   
1-Year Reading Growth/Decline
 NA  +0.77  +0.94  +3.51  -1.57  +1.14  +2.1  -1.34  -0.68
2-Year Reading Growth/Decline 
 NA  +2.64  +2.74  +4.42  -0.58  +3.64  +3.0  +1.84  -2.45
                   
1-Year English Growth/Decline
 NA  +0.31  +1.06  +0.51  -0.84  +0.08  +1.61  -0.19  -0.37
2-Year English Growth/Decline
 NA  +1.60  +2.95  -0.52  +2.05  +1.13  +3.93  +4.03  +3.50
                   
1-Year Math Growth/Decline
 -1.30  -.17  -3.78  -3.31  -6.48  -2.12  +1.16  +2.22  +2.45
2-Year Math Growth/Decline
 +3.68  +3.28  -1.40  +1.61  +.97  +3.71  +8.38  +5.35  +6.12
                   
1-Year Science Growth/Decline
 -1.85  -.58  -1.32  -2.01  -4.13  -2.75  -1.16  -.71  -2.53
2-Year Science Growth/Decline
 +1.90  +2.03  +3.10  +1.50  -6.42  +4.33  +3.62  +5.58  +3.28

 

  • In the second year, between 2015-16 and 2016-17, in 32 opportunities (Overall, Grades 3-10 in Reading, English, Math and Science), Arkansas's students improved 30 times. The only times they didn't were in Grade 5 English and Grade 6 Science.
  • In the third year, between 2016-17 and 2017-18, in 32 opportunities (Grades 3-10 in Reading, English, Math and Science), Arkansas's students only improved 13 times - Grades 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8 Reading, Grades 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8 English, and Grades 8, 9 and 10 Math.
  • Over two years, between 2015-16 and 2017-18, in 32 opportunities (Grades 3-10 in Reading, English, Math and Science), Arkansas's student improved 27 times. The only times they didn't were in Grades 6 and 10 Reading, Grade 5 English, Grade 4 Math, and Grade 6 Science.

In the second year, 93.75% of Arkansas's grades improved.

In the third year, only 40.63% of Arkansas's grades improved.

Over two years, 84.38% of Arkansas's grades improved.

 

And what about the three-and-a-half year state-controlled Little Rock School District?

Little Rock School District
(Percentage Meeting/Exceeding Readiness)


Grades
3-10 Overall
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
2016 Reading  30.03  31.60  32.90  26.30  29.20  29.50  37.80  26.50  26.30
2016 English  56.90  63.90  56.80  64.60  56.30  64.50  59.40  42.90  44.20
2016 Math  32.61  48.10  41.60  38.30  39.00  28.90  23.50  18.70  15.60
2016 Science  26.15  31.60  30.90  28.40  29.90  26.60  22.40  18.00  18.90

 
2017 Reading  32.23  31.90  34.70  28.80  33.90  28.70  40.07  29.30  30.40
2017 English  58.76  64.30  60.00  64.50  61.40  65.00  61.10  42.80  49.30
2017 Math  37.91  51.33  47.85  41.74  47.26  35.05  30.84  22.78  18.49
2017 Science  30.16  31.40  36.81  31.16  32.12  31.84  31.13  21.10  24.08
 
2018 Reading  NA  32.29  36.26  30.70  35.29  29.22  38.24  26.15  24.49
2018 English  NA  63.47  61.70  62.50  60.01  69.19  61.29  40.25  45.47
2018 Math  35.65  50.68  41.00  39.35  40.31  32.85  31.74  22.13  20.80
2018 Science  26.68  30.35  32.78  31.51  33.06  28.69  28.09  19.93  22.68
                   
1-Year Reading Growth/Decline  NA  +0.39  +1.56  +1.9  +1.39  +0.52  -1.83  -3.15  -5.91
2-Year Reading Growth/Decline  NA  +0.69  +3.36  +4.40  +5.79  -0.28  +0.44  -0.35  -1.81

                 
1-Year English Growth/Decline  NA  -0.83  +1.70  -2.0  -1.39  +4.19  +0.19  -2.55  -3.83
2-Year English Growth/Decline  NA  -0.43  +4.90  -2.1  +3.71  +4.69  +1.89  -2.65  +1.27
                   
 1-Year Math Growth/Decline  -2.26  -.65  -6.85  -2.39  -6.95  -2.20  +.9  -.65  +2.31
 2-Year Math Growth/Decline  +3.04  +2.58  -.60  +1.05  +1.31  +3.95  +8.24  +3.43  +1.9
                   
1-Year Science Growth/Decline  -3.48  -1.05  -4.03  +.35  +.94  -3.15  -3.04  -1.17  -1.40
2-Year Science Growth/Decline  +.53  -1.25  +1.88  +3.11  +3.16  +2.09  +5.69  +1.93  +3.78

 

  • In the second year, between 2015-16 and 2016-17, in 32 opportunities (Grades 3-10 in Reading, English, Math and Science) the Little Rock School District's students improved 28 times. The only time they didn't improve was in Grade 7 Reading, Grades 5 and 9 English, and Grade 3 Science.
  • In the third year, between 2016-17 and 2017-18, in 32 opportunities (Grades 3-10 in Reading, English, Math and Science), the Little Rock School District's students improved 12 times - Grades 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 Reading, Grades 4, 7 and 8 English, Grades 8 and 10 Math, and Grades 5 and 6 Science.
  • Over two years, between 2015-16 and 2017-18, in 32 opportunities (Grades 3-10 in Reading, English, Math and Science), Little Rock School District's student improved 24 times. The only times they didn't were in Grades 7, 9 and 10 Reading, Grade 3, 5 and 9 English, Grade 4 Math, and Grade 3 Science.

In the second year, 87.5% of Little Rock School District's grades improved.

In the third year, only 37.5% of Little Rock School District's grades improved.

Over two years, 75% of Little Rock School District's grades improved.

 

While the State and district rightfully trumpeted growth between 2015-16 and 2016-17, it must rightfully accept responsibility for declines between 2016-17 and 2017-18. Otherwise, Arkansas's recent history of summative assessments may best be summed up as follows:

  • Pre-2014: Lies and Denial
  • 2014-15: Truth
  • 2015-16: Truth
  • 2016-17: Truth
  • 2017-18: Truth and Spin

While the latter is preferable to the former, only acceptance of responsibility for the truth as a catalyst for immediate prioritization of Arkansas students will pull our state and dstrict out of its educational and individual/community economic development emergency.

Here's the link for the Arkansas Department of Education's news release: Arkansas' ACT Aspire Results Show Growth; ACT Results for Grade 11 Hold Steady

In our opinion, calling slightly declining scores "steady," while calling slightly increasing scores "improving" is spin unworthy of the Department.

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