How much did students really gain on Common Core tests in New York? Data doesn’t say

The main reason for annual standardized tests is to figure out how much kids are learning each year. But when New York released its 2014 Common Core test results on August 14, state education officials were selective in their data reporting and did not disclose actual student scores. Instead they released only the percentage of children […]


Determining “cut scores” as New York students take the first Common Core high school exams

New York State education policy makers had a difficult task when they sat down to grade the first high school Regents exams linked to the Common Core standards, in algebra and English, last month. They needed to establish a high bar for meeting the new education standards, yet at the same time protect current students, who haven’t had much […]


Controversial data-driven research behind the California court’s decision to reject teacher tenure

Underlying the California court’s decision on June 10, 2014 to reject teacher tenure as unconstitutional is a controversial body of academic research on teacher effectiveness.  The argument that won out was that tenure rules often force school districts to retain their worst teachers. Those ineffective teachers tend to end up at the least desirable schools […]


Connecticut and Arkansas show unusual gains on test of high school seniors; Massachusetts shows sharp decline

I previously wrote about the woeful stagnation among U.S. high school seniors on a national reading and math test whose 2013 results were released May 7, 2014. But two bright spots are in Arkansas and Connecticut. Both state’s high school seniors showed a notably large 4 point increase on their math test and even larger […]


High school wasteland: Demographic changes do not explain test-score stagnation among U.S. high school seniors

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, run by the U.S. Department of Education, is the only test that is administered in schools across every state in the nation. Fourth and eighth graders across the country have shown meaningful progress on it since the early 1990s, especially in math. The 2013 results in these younger grades […]


Teachers, students and adult public more supportive of school testing than you might think

You might guess that standardized tests are the bane of both teachers’ and students’ existences, but two different opinion polls  show a surprising level of support for bubbling in circles with number 2 pencils. In Teachers versus the Public, a book published on April 29, 2014, Harvard Professor Paul E. Peterson reports that 86 percent of the […]


Is gentrification in Washington DC driving the surge in test scores?

As I wrote on Nov. 7, 2103, Washington DC posted the one of the strongest test score gains in the nation on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress and I wanted to look at how demographic shifts in the nation’s capital might be influencing these test results. I began by constructing this table.   […]


Washington DC and Tennessee post huge gains in math and reading in 2013 while nation shows small improvement

Fourth and eighth grade public school students in Washington DC and Tennessee showed huge gains on national math and reading tests in 2013 from two years ago, the last time the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) exams were administered. Unusual seven point gains were seen on some tests, whose results were released on Nov. […]


A data-driven argument to reduce testing in schools

The U.S. is off to a bad start when it comes to using data to improve schools, concludes a National Education Policy Center October 2013 report entitled Data Driven Improvement and Accountability by Andy Hargreaves and Henry Braun of Boston College. The authors urge U.S. policy makers to reduce the amount of testing in schools and to measure student […]


College board moans stagnation of SAT scores

The College Board, which administers the SAT, issued a report yesterday (September 26, 2013) bemoaning that only 43 percent of SAT takers in the 2013 graduating class were college and career ready. That means 57% are not ready. What does that mean? The College Board set an arbitrary cut off, that is a 1550 SAT […]