California: Stagnate standardized test scores; "quality of the test itself" blamed

Sept 27, 2017, Eureka (CA) Times-Standard: California school test scores: Why are they flatlining? Breaking with its steadily upward trend, California’s annual test scores have stagnated, with fewer than half of students proficient in math and English, and a wide ethnic achievement gap persisting. State scores released Wednesday show just 49 percent of students proficient in English and 37 percent proficient in math. The numbers are half a percentage-point different from 2016 — down in English and up in math. Tests were administered last spring to students in third through eighth grades and 11th grade. … The state’s education leaders played down the results. “Test scores are not the only way to look at how students are doing,” state Board of Education President Michael Kirst, a professor emeritus at Stanford, wrote in an email. He cited graduation rates, suspension, enrollment in college-prep and advanced-placement classes as other measures of school performance. “Our watchwords are patience, persistence, humility and continuous improvement,” he wrote.... California isn’t alone in its stagnating scores and in fact compares favorably with the 12 other states, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands, that administered the same tests last spring from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Scores decreased in every state, and California’s decline was about the smallest, retired educational testing specialist Douglas McRae said. Those languishing scores have raised questions about the quality of the test itself.