Amid criticism, state officials restore past years’ test data

Credit: iStockphoto.comCredit: iStockphoto.comThe California Department of Education on Friday began restoring historical test data that it deleted from the most accessible part of its website earlier this month, following criticism that it did so to discourage the public from making comparisons to the results of new tests aligned to the Common Core standards.
The department plans to release scores from the new tests, known as Smarter Balanced, on Sept. 9.
The department’s decision came two days after EdSource first reported that the department took down 15 years of math and English language arts scores from the database of the Standardized Testing and Reporting program, known as STAR, which enabled the public to search results by district, school and student subgroups from grades 3 through 12. The information  was located on the department’s DataQuest website.
The move received harsh criticism, with some saying that the department overreacted and mistrusted the public with the data. In a statement Friday, Bill Ainsworth, the education department’s communications director, issued the following statement:
“Earlier this month, the California Department of Education moved results from the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program in math and English language arts from the location on our website where we plan to put up results from the new California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP, while continuing to make that information available in research files and in another section of our website, EdData.
“We sought to provide clear and relevant information to the public, highlight CAASPP results, and maintain our strong commitment to transparency. Unfortunately, this action was misperceived by some and may have caused confusion. As a result, we are restoring STAR test results to their previous location on our website.”
Department  officials and many others have cautioned that comparing results from the two sets of tests would be inappropriate and inaccurate because the academic standards have changed, with the adoption of the Common Core, and the new online assessments are very different. Officials initially cited a state law forbidding state agencies and local districts from making test comparisons in justifying the removal of the data. Ainsworth acknowledged that interpretation was inaccurate; the law did not apply to publicly posting information.
By Friday evening, the department had restored data from 2007 to 2013, the last year that the California Standards Tests in English language arts and math were given. Ainsworth said that the department will repost the remaining information in the next few days.
For background information and the previous story, go here.
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