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TC's Pallas Talks to Chalkbeat About NY's Test Score Gains

Aaron Pallas, Arthur I. Gates Professor of Sociology and Education
Aaron Pallas, Arthur I. Gates Professor of Sociology and Education

‌In interviews with educators and analysts, including TC's Aaron Pallas, Chalkbeat New York explored possible reasons for the 7 percent increase in New York State's English proficiency scores, and 1 percent increase in math proficiency scores, on state standardized tests.

When the scores were released on July 29, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia told reporters that she "wasn't exactly sure" why the state's 2016 standardized test scores were so much higher than last year's, but she cautioned that an "apples to apples" comparison might not be possible.

Elia's comments sparked a lively discussion among educators and analysts who were sifting through the data and trying to explain it. Chalkbeat New York reported that researchers believe changes the state made this year in response to organized opposition to Common Core-related standardized tests, including lowering the number of questions and giving test takers unlimited time, "likely explain some, if not much, of the statewide increase."

In New York City, English scores rose even higher - by 8 percent - and in charter schools even higher than that, by 13.7 percent. Mayor de Blasio claimed credit for the gains in non-charter city scores, citing his "'Renewal' program for struggling schools; his administration’s support of community schools, which offer additional services to families; and his universal pre-K push," Chalkbeat reports.

Meanwhile, Chalkbeat writes, while researchers said the statewide changes were probably important, "test scores are an unreliable marker of progress," especially considering how much the tests had changed.

Pallas, Professor of Sociology and Education, told Chalkbeat that the statewide increases “'are sufficiently large that it makes me think there’s something about the difference in the tests from last year that accounts for the difference in growth.' ”

However, he said, it’s likely too early to know which factors or combination of factors -- changes in the test or better instruction and learning -- were responsible. “ 'There’s just too many moving parts right now,'” Pallas told Chalkbeat. “'We’ll be able to have a better sense of what’s going on [eventually], but right now we’re in this gray area.'”

For the full story, go here.

Published Friday, Aug 5, 2016

Aaron Pallas, Arthur I. Gates Professor of Sociology and Education
Aaron Pallas, Arthur I. Gates Professor of Sociology and Education

‌In interviews with educators and analysts, including TC's Aaron Pallas, Chalkbeat New York explored possible reasons for the 7 percent increase in New York State's English proficiency scores, and 1 percent increase in math proficiency scores, on state standardized tests.

When the scores were released on July 29, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia told reporters that she "wasn't exactly sure" why the state's 2016 standardized test scores were so much higher than last year's, but she cautioned that an "apples to apples" comparison might not be possible.

Elia's comments sparked a lively discussion among educators and analysts who were sifting through the data and trying to explain it. Chalkbeat New York reported that researchers believe changes the state made this year in response to organized opposition to Common Core-related standardized tests, including lowering the number of questions and giving test takers unlimited time, "likely explain some, if not much, of the statewide increase."

In New York City, English scores rose even higher - by 8 percent - and in charter schools even higher than that, by 13.7 percent. Mayor de Blasio claimed credit for the gains in non-charter city scores, citing his "'Renewal' program for struggling schools; his administration’s support of community schools, which offer additional services to families; and his universal pre-K push," Chalkbeat reports.

Meanwhile, Chalkbeat writes, while researchers said the statewide changes were probably important, "test scores are an unreliable marker of progress," especially considering how much the tests had changed.

Pallas, Professor of Sociology and Education, told Chalkbeat that the statewide increases “'are sufficiently large that it makes me think there’s something about the difference in the tests from last year that accounts for the difference in growth.' ”

However, he said, it’s likely too early to know which factors or combination of factors -- changes in the test or better instruction and learning -- were responsible. “ 'There’s just too many moving parts right now,'” Pallas told Chalkbeat. “'We’ll be able to have a better sense of what’s going on [eventually], but right now we’re in this gray area.'”

For the full story, go here.

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