Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Resetting the Benchmark with Assessments Tied to Common Core

August 07, 2013

The Common Core State Standards have been adopted in 45 states and have for the first time established clear, consistent and robust standards for student learning. Now, states are implementing and administering assessments aligned to these standards, which will give us a new window into student achievement and college readiness. Results from those assessments are starting to come in, marking an incredibly important moment for school districts – this will establish a new benchmark that more accurately reflects students’ readiness for college and career.

School district leaders and teachers predicted that the transition from the old standards to the new ones might be a little painful at first. But for the first time, we’re being honest about how prepared students are for college and for work. And while this transition may be hard on parents and students, we owe it to them to be honest about the challenges ahead. The long-term benefit of these assessments – which will provide more useful information about how to make sure every student is well-prepared for life after high school – will far outweigh any short-term challenges.

 But for the first time, we’re being honest about how prepared students are for college and for work.

Take New York State, for example, where the state just reported the first round of results from new, tests aligned with the Common Core – a major milestone in their admirable efforts to improve achievement and college readiness for all students. At first glance, the scores might look like a drop in proficiency from last year, but those numbers actually reset the baseline to a level that will allow teachers to more accurately measure their student’s learning and college readiness going forward.

These bold and brave steps will cast a more successful future for generations to come. While it will take time, and every state will face its own unique set of challenges, we must stay the course by providing the supports, training and resources teachers need in order to meet the challenging, yet worthwhile demands before them.

It’s heartening to see states taking the tough step of implementing more rigorous assessments tied to the Common Core. It’s even more encouraging to see states embracing the early assessment results for what they are – important new information that’s necessary as we continue to strive to better prepare students for success in life. 

 
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