Washington students will take a new standardized test based on the Common Core State Standards for the first time this spring and district administrators said theyre preparing for the transition to lead to lower test scores.
State officials said there will be a transition period as students adapt to the new tests and that it wouldnt be fair to compare results to the states previous standardized assessments.
Youre not measuring apples to apples, said Kristen Jaudon, spokeswoman for the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Because students may not perform well, at least initially, and scores could drop by as much as a third, district officials are making sure families arent surprised.
I think a third is a huge drop, said Rick Jansons, a Richland School Board member at a recent board workshop. We need to communicate all this clearly to the community.
Schools across the state and in the Mid-Columbia are conducting field tests of the new assessment this spring before it replaces the current state tests, the Measures of Student Progress, or MSP, and the High School Proficiency Exam, or HSPE, next year.
The anticipated decline in scores is expected because of a combination of issues, from students using a computer-based testing model instead of paper and pencil, to changes in how questions are phrased and subjects are taught, they said.
Were all learning, said Bev Henderson, Kennewicks assessment coordinator.
The state has said before that student performance on the differing assessments used in the past cant be accurately compared. Its student growth, not individual test scores, that are important, Jaudon said, and the state expects a transition period as students and teachers adjust.
Its just a part of the process, she said.
Test scores are used to evaluate districts on student performance and the federal government is pushing to have math and reading scores play a role in teacher evaluations. It isnt known how long student performance, on the new tests will be seen as being in transition or an accurate measure of achievement, officials said.