Education

Final results confirm Idaho student math sag

Final test scores from last spring’s state’s achievement test associated with the Common Core standards are out, but they are likely to do little to stem the rising criticism that the exam is prompting from state officials and educators.

What do the results show?

Scores are remarkably close to the preliminary results released in July. Overall scores tend to be low, which was expected in the first round of a more rigorous test than the old Idaho Standards Achievement Test. Both versions of results showed the same worrisome slide in math performance, from 50 percent of students scoring proficient or above in third grade to 30 percent in 10th grade. Results are for the state, districts and local schools.

What will the state be doing about that?

Sherri Ybarra, state superintendent of public instruction, will ask lawmakers in January for $1.7 million to hire a dozen math coaches to send around the state to help improve math instruction.

Who takes the test?

Students in third through eighth grades and in tenth grades. It’s a federal requirement for testing in math and English

How many Idaho students took the exam?

Math: 182,639 students. English: 160,802 students.

Hasn’t this test been criticized for being too long?

Some critics warned the exam would take up to eight hours, eating up instructional and school computer lab time. Results from this exam show the average test time ranges from a five hours in 10th grade to 6.4 hours in fifth grade. Six hours is too long, says Don Coberly, Boise School District superintendent. If the exams were trimmed to be done in about five hours for all grades, that would be more acceptable, he said.

What are done with the results?

Local districts had hoped to use them to improve instruction in the classroom. But many districts complain that the test doesn’t give enough feedback to guide teachers in what students need to improve. Idaho policymakers also had originally planned to make the exam a graduation requirements for the class of 2018, this year’s 10th-graders. But the State Board of Education backed off that requirement earlier this month.

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