Other Cut Score and Assessment Dilemmas

State boards of education may have to make additional decisions about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) cut scores. For example, some states already require students to pass state assessments to graduate and be promoted to the next grade. With the new CCSS, state boards will have to decide if those policies will remain in place and for which assessments.

One of the appealing aspects of the CCSS assessments was that assessments developed by an entity that did not require payment from states would be less expensive for states than developing individual state assessments, as is currently the case. State boards of education that are responsible for making decisions about the assessments given to students in a state will have to decide if the state will discontinue the administration of other state assessments and end-of-course exams not covered by the new CCSS assessments. For example, Georgia and Hawaii have decided to continue to administer their end-of-course assessments. Additionally, states will have to decide if they will continue to administer the other assessments currently in use and how results from those assessments will be used to make decisions about graduation and grade promotion.

States that adopted the CCSS agreed that they would adopt the standards in its entirety; however, a state may supplement them up to 15 percent to accommodate for constitutional requirements. Adding standards will require states to determine which standards should be added and, equally important, how to assess student proficiency on the additional standards, since the consortia-created assessments will only include the CCSS and not the states’ supplemental standards. The addition of standards is not only an academic issue, but a fiscal one, as well, because of the assessment challenges it poses. Another important thing to remember is that additional standards will require additional educator resources. NASBE has created a brief to inform State Board of Education (SBOE) members on this matter.

These decisions will have implications for graduation requirements and a state’s accountability system.Those states with ESEA waivers will have to honor the conditions of their waiver. In the long term, however, state boards that have authority over graduation 

State boards that have authority over graduation requirements, grade promotion requirements, and the state’s accountability system should consider how the assessments will impact future decisions regarding these matters.

requirements, grade promotion requirements, and the state’s accountability system should consider how the assessments will impact future decisions regarding these matters. Particular attention should be paid to how a state’s accountability system can be aligned to the goals of CCSS. Because the CCSS are meant to prepare students for college and career, a state’s accountability system could be entirely or partially aligned to the intention of the standards. Meaning schools could be held accountable for multiple measures that examine the extent to which a school prepares a student for college and career.  For example, Florida’s school grading system is based on a set of multiple measures, all of which help prepare students for college and career readiness. These measures include graduation rates, scores on the state’s Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, student participation and performance in accelerated coursework (e.g., Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, dual enrollment, Advanced International Certificate of Education and industry certification).

All decisions regarding the use of the CCSS assessment results should be made with recognition that it will take time to transition to the new standards. Both educators and students should be given time to make the transition.

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