GULFPORT, Miss. – A Common Core school district – Gulfport, Mississippi – is covering up failing test scores.
At a recent meeting by Superintendent Glen East, parents were told that the test scores of the district had improved dramatically under the implementation of the Common Core curriculum. The Superintendent made his claims regarding dramatic academic improvement of all students by using ONLY the scores of the top 150 students.
In his comments to parents, Mr. East stated,
“This district already had national average ACT scores. We’ve now gone with our top students, our top 150 students, we’ve gone from a 23 average to almost a 25 in over four years. That is not a new ACT, that is the ACT we are currently working with. We’ve improved reading achievement for all students. When I look at that data about how we’ve grown over the past four years and the success we’ve had, if you are in my shoes, you have to celebrate what you are doing. Very Powerful!”
However, a couple of weeks later at a subsequent event, it seems that parents had a chance to research the data that the Superintendent had reported. Upon closer inspection of the data, parents found that the Superintendent completely misrepresented the data, and that the results were worse, not better. They were not simply a little worse, but a lot worse.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan should take note. This father does not look much like a white suburban mother. Chris Ashley is the pastor at a local Baptist Church who has a son attending the Gulfport schools. He opens his talk with congratulating the district on the gains they had made. After a brief applause from the audience, he goes into the data.
“According to the Mississippi Department of Education website and their stats, and I can leave them here with Mr. East or all you all can go and get them yourself, everywhere else we are dropping. From 2009 to 2012, almost every grade has dropped in their scores. Not all of them, but overall our test scores have dropped.
“…Greatschools.org you can go there, they’ve pretty much done all the math for you, they tell you the percentages of students that have scored proficient or better. Third grade language arts, we’ve dropped 4%, this is all 2009-2012. Math 3rd grade we’ve dropped 6%. Fourth grade language arts, we’ve went up 8% but we dropped 5% in math. Fifth grade we dropped 5% in language arts and 6% in math. Sixth grade we went up 1% in language arts, we dropped 2% in math. Seventh grade and eighth grade, went up 8 and 4, and eighth grade went up 4 and 12.
“The 5th grade MST test we did well at we up we went up 9 and 17 points.”
Well, that is good, right? But what about on the very SAT and ACT that the school district touts?
“The SATP from 2009-2012 in Algebra we dropped 34%. In 2009-2012 in English we dropped 18%, in Biology we dropped 46% in those same years, and in history we dropped 38%. You see I heard a lot about our ACT scores and how great they are from the 10th grade and that is awesome. I didn’t check the 10th grade scores, but I did check the graduating seniors…. From 2007-20011 we’ve dropped 1% in English, 0.7% in math, we are level in reading, we’ve dropped a half a percent in science and a half a percent in composite scores.
“Now, we all know we can take data and we can twist to show what you want it to show. I took the numbers straight from there and said I didn’t give you just the 10th grade or just the 7th and 8th grade where it looks good. I gave it all to you.”
Then this parent details what the No Child Left Behind testing shows, that Gulfport schools appear to be falling behind.
“I have our district report card here from the No Child Left Behind, and we have dropped. We have dropped without a doubt. Every grade 3-8th in mean score scale, everyone one has dropped. The 3rd-8th grade in language arts, and math, and science, the mean scale score, we have dropped from the previous year, every grade. We have dropped in algebra in the high school, we’ve dropped, uh, we’ve dropped in the mean score in every except biology we stayed even 648.
“Like I said, I have all kind of common core curriculum questions, but what I don’t like is somebody to screw the numbers and tell us we are doing good when we are really not doing good.”
What was the answer to this parent from Dr. Carla Evers, Director of Instructional Programs?
“I looked at the Greatschools website, it will show the Gulfport schools going up, and then all of a sudden we just dive like we went off a cliff and stopped teaching. Well, we did. We stopped teaching the state standards and we shifted to the common core standards state standards. So that should have happened because the things that are on that test were not what we were now teaching in our classrooms. So we understood that, the state department put that in our newspaper, but for some reason they still put those test scores on their state website.”
Now, what material would it been that is no longer taught in the Gulfport schools? Reading? Addition? Subtraction? Multiplication? These are huge score drops. Further, the ACT was the same test that Superintendent East had just bragged about, so how is it that it can be used to brag about improvement for one grade, but not erosions in learning in another grade?
Even worse, the school district is upset that the State Department of Education failed to hide the scores from the state website? This is outrageous!
If the ACT and SATP are not valid measures of student learning in Gulfport, MS, then what measure is? Do the colleges in Mississippi no longer accept the ACT and the SAT?
Activists at Stop Common Core Mississippi Facebook page noted,
“Common Core clearly fails to teach the foundational material needed to pass tests. Whose fault is it that the failures was leaked to the public?”
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