Mississippi public schools’ test scores, as predicted by education leaders, declined statewide in results released Tuesday, reflecting a transition year in phasing-out one testing system and embracing the Common Core, a more rigorous statewide standard requiring more critical-thinking and writing.
This year, 2014-2015, all state schools are using Common Core and students will be tested based on what they have learned using its regimen next spring, with results released in fall 2015.
In 2013-2014, some schools did not teach fully to the old system and concentrated more on Common Core, which meant students in some cases were tested on what they had not studied.
As a result, the state Board of Education said school ratings can be retained for another year, so an “A” school can remain an A school even if the 2014 testing shows it did not reach that level.
Regular rankings based on actual performance will return within the next two years, but scores are again expected to drop because the new curriculum core is, in a word, harder, which is an overall positive.
It’s possible individual students, even if they score lower on the Common Core, will have learned as much or more than in the phased-out, less rigorous curriculum.
The scores released Tuesday morning are from year-end tests required in grades three through 12.
The transition year has been difficult for administrators, teachers, students and parents because in some ways teaching was limited by demands of trying to serve two curriculums and two standards.
That issue, thankfully, is behind. Common Core is in place and schools are moving forward.
Common Core, it is worthy of note, was developed at the behest of the nation’s governors to make all American public schools more competitive internationally; schools in many other nations outperform American schools in academic achievement.
Former Gov. Haley Barbour was among the advocates for Common Core and remains supportive.
Political opposition has developed before the fact of implementation, but success and progress with the Common Core assessments will silence naysayers.
Common Core is not a federal program, and it was not shoved down states’ throats by a governmental decree. States, more than 40, voluntarily adopted the standards. Mississippi’s public school children, teachers and administrators need strong citizens’ support in mastering Common Core, with the goal of success and high academic achievement to clear the road ahead.