Education officials underestimated impact of Common Core

As the state noted its first test-score decline in at least a decade, superintendents changed their tune in predicting what impact the new, rigorous Common Core curriculum would have on the Maryland School Assessment scores this year.

In 2012, amid angst from educators that they'd be teaching a new curriculum and assessing students with old tests --the assessments reflecting the Common Core won't be implemented until 2014 --officials went so far to say that if teachers were teaching the Common Core right, students should be able to breeze through the less rigorous MSAs. You can read that story, here.


Here's a highlight from a first-day-of school article from my colleague Liz Bowie, quoting State Superintendent Lillian Lowery as saying: "If [teachers] are teaching the Common Core standards, they should do well on the Maryland School Assessments and the High School Assessments."

Superintendents around the state echoed that sentiment.

But Lowery, and others, are now saying that maybe they were too optimistic.

In Baltimore City, considered a leader in its Common Core implementation, officials said that they underestimated the impact that the new curriculum would have when they began their transition two years ago.

Interim CEO Tisha Edwards acknowledged that there was an "oversimplification of what would happen in the transition. We had hoped there wouldn't be such misalignment."

She added: "But, the reality is now we're all clear that there's a transition happening in the next three years," that's going to impact test scores.

She also echoed a sentiment expressed by Lowery that educators are overwhelmed by all of the reforms taking place in the state --including their new high-stakes evaluations --at the same time.

"Our administrators and teachers are really struggling with the transition," Edwards said. "While they're walking this journey with us, it's the new 'proficient.' and there are stresses that come with that."

The new assessments, called PARCC assessments, that will align to the new curriculum aren't scheduled to begin until the 2014-2015 school year, and even that's up in the air.

Superintendents have reported that they don't know yet what the new assessments will look like, or what infrastructure they will need to have in place to administer the computer-based tests.

In the meantime, several education leaders around the state have called for a moratorium on testing until the curriculum and assessment align, and the new assessments are up and running.

According to Sun Reporter Liz Bowie, the state board of education has said that they will continue to test because it is federally mandated. Some education officials also said they believed that the MSA still provides valuable information about student growth.