Baton Rouge Area Chamber issues report that Common Core test results likely to be lackluster

The Advocate

In a second warning, a report issued Thursday by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber said Common Core test results next week are likely to be low for students in Louisiana.

“BRAC does not expect the scores to be exceptionally high,” according to the report. “In fact, we anticipate quite the opposite.

“But we further posit that that’s a reasonable outcome, because transitioning to higher standards is difficult,” it says.

The comments mark the second time parents and others were told results on the exams are likely to be lackluster.

State Superintendent of Education John White said last month the scores will be sobering.

“The fact is we have a long way to go to be competitive with other states,” White said then. “I think it will be sobering, but it will show evidence of progress.”

Common Core represents revamped academic benchmarks in reading, writing and math.

The standards are under review for possible changes by four committees, and the BRAC report referred to them as the Louisiana State Standards, not Common Core.

About 320,000 students in grades three through eight were quizzed in March and May on how well they mastered the benchmarks.

Statewide results are to be released Monday.

On Tuesday, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will decide which of five academic categories students should be assigned based on their scores.

The results are likely to ignite new arguments on the value of Common Core, as well as years of changes in public schools aimed at improving student achievement.

Backers say that, even with low test results, students in Louisiana will benefit from new national comparisons. Critics say the overhaul has always been flawed and that bad scores raise questions about years of so-called education reforms.

Liz Smith, director of policy and research for BRAC, said in an interview Thursday there is always a possibility some will say low scores demand a pause in public school changes.

“This is no reason for that,” Smith said.

The study says “BRAC appeals upon policymakers to keep the standards in place and allow students the opportunity to achieve them.”

The report also notes that students in Louisiana have long ranked near the bottom nationally in math and reading on the nation’s report card — the National Assessment for Educational Progress, or NAEP.

“This data shows that Louisiana trails the majority of the nation in these major benchmark assessments, earning scores higher than only the states of Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, New Mexico and the District of Columbia,” according to the study.

The test scores will eventually allow comparisons with 10 states and the District of Columbia. The 10 states are Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Illinois, New Mexico, Colorado, Rhode Island and Arkansas.

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