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Assessment

Most Alabama Students Fall Short on Common-Core Test

By Catherine Gewertz — December 12, 2014 2 min read

The drumbeat has been getting louder as PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests get closer: Many students are expected to fall short of proficiency marks on those new, presumably tougher exams. But those kinds of sobering results are showing up on other common-core tests, as well.

The ACT’s Aspire, designed to reflect the common core, has produced its first round of statewide results. In nearly every grade and both subjects, more than half of Alabama’s students fall below the cut points that connote being on track for success in college, according to local news media reports. The tests in reading and math were given to Alabama students in grades 3-8 for the first time last school year. The state chose that new suite of assessments when it dropped out of the federally funded assessment consortia.

State schools Superintendent Tommy Bice briefed state board members on the results on Thursday. The brightest spot was in 3rd grade math, where barely half the students—52 percent—scored in the top two categories of the four-level test.

Like other education leaders faced with explaining score drops, Bice told board members that the results can’t be compared to the results of the state’s previous test, because the new test’s expectations have been significantly increased. The new test should be seen as a “reset” that provides an honest look at students’ academic performance, he said, as reported in the Anniston Star.

“We set the bar too low for too long,” he said.

“This is truly a new baseline,” Bice said, according to the Star. “It’s not something you can compare to our old assessment. This is not something you can take in any way other than saying, ‘This is where we are.’”

Here’s a complete list of the Alabama ACT Aspire results, as published by AL.com:

MATH:

Grade 3:
Exceeding: 18 percent
Ready: 34 percent
Close: 32 percent
In need of support: 16 percent

Grade 4:
Exceeding: 11 percent
Ready: 34 percent
Close: 45 percent
In need of support: 10 percent

Grade 5:
Exceeding: 12 percent
Ready: 27 percent
Close: 51 percent
In need of support: 9 percent

Grade 6:
Exceeding: 14 percent
Ready: 29 percent
Close: 41 percent
In need of support: 16 percent

Grade 7:
Exceeding: 10 percent
Ready: 21 percent
Close: 35 percent
In need of support: 34 percent

Grade 8:
Exceeding: 12 percent
Ready: 17 percent
Close: 28 percent
In need of support: 44 percent

READING:

Grade 3:
Exceeding: 14 percent
Ready: 21 percent
Close: 23 percent
In need of support: 42 percent

Grade 4:
Exceeding: 15 percent
Ready: 23 percent
Close: 32 percent
In need of support: 29 percent

Grade 5:
Exceeding: 15 percent
Ready: 19 percent
Close: 33 percent
In need of support: 34 percent

Grade 6:
Exceeding: 17 percent
Ready: 24 percent
Close: 30 percent
In need of support: 28 percent

Grade 7:
Exceeding: 7 percent
Ready: 29 percent
Close: 34 percent
In need of support: 31 percent

Grade 8:
Exceeding: 14 percent
Ready: 34 percent
Close: 27 percent:
In need of support: 25 percent

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.