Common Core

California Reports First Common Core Assessment Scores

The California Department of Education has released the detailed results of the state's first Common Core assessments and found that the majority of students did not meet the standards set for English language arts and math.

Despite the apparently low scores, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson urged caution in interpreting the results. The new academic standards are more rigorous than their predecessors and emphasize critical thinking, problem-solving and analytical writing, skills that will take time for students to develop. He also pointed out that while most students did not meet the standards, "many students are at or near achievement standards."

The 2014–2015 school year was the first year that students took the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), which includes the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments of Common Core State Standards in English language arts and math. The tests consist of two parts: a computer-based adaptive assessment that adjusts follow-up questions based on students' answers, and a performance test that asks students to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world problems. By contrast, the state's previous assessment, the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program simply required students to fill in bubbles on a paper-based multiple-choice test.

The CAASPP ranked student scores in four achievement categories: standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met and standard not met.

Key results of the CAASPP assessments include the following:

  • Statewide in all grades, 44 percent of students met or exceeded the English language arts standard and 33 percent met or exceeded the math standard;
  • for English language arts in all grades, 16 percent of students exceeded the standard, 28 percent met the standard, 25 percent nearly met the standard and 31 percent did not meet the standard;
  • for math in all grades, 14 percent exceeded the standard, 19 percent met the standard, 29 percent nearly met the standard and 38 percent did not meet the standard;
  • among 11th-graders, the assessments found that 56 percent of students are ready or conditionally ready for college-level work in English language arts and 29 percent are ready or conditionally ready for college-level work in math; and
  • the CAASPP revealed a persistent achievement gap among students from low-income families, English language learners and some ethnic groups when compared to other students.

Detailed results of the CAASPP assessments for all counties, districts and schools, broken down by grade, gender, ethnic group and demographics. can be found on the CAASPP Results site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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