California’s Rise in Reading, Slide in Math

EdSource published my commentary earlier this month showing the rise in ELA and slide in math achievement.  When we follow the same classes of students over time, we see big changes in the number of students scoring at proficient and above.  We do ourselves a disservice by looking solely at who’s above or below a proficiency cut score.  What’s the trend for all students at all levels of achievement?  

Here’s the longitudinal trend for each elementary class, presented in stacked bar charts.  The percentage of students scoring at Level 1 is in dark grey; the percentage at Level 2 is in light grey.  The percentage at Levels 3 and 4 are in light and dark blue. In an ideal world, the size of the blue rises over time and the grey bars shrink.  That’s the case for the Class of 2026 in English Language Arts for the Class of 2026.  36,400 more 5th grade students are meeting or exceeding standards than they were as 3rd graders.  

But in math, we see the opposite trend.  The number of students at Level 1 is increasing over time.  39,700 fewer 5thgraders are meeting standards than they were as 3rd graders.  

Friends of mine argue correctly that “growth matters most”.  But what if students aren’t growing as they should?  What do we do then?  More thoughts on these questions to come.  You can reach me via email here.