Vermont’s Sad Education Test Scores

by John McClaughry

Vermont Digger has done us another service by publishing a report entitled “Making the Grade?”. It presents the results of the tests used by Vermont and 14 other states to determine public school student proficiency in English and math in 3rd, 8th and 11th grades.

The Vermont Agency of Education  goes to great pains to emphasize that it’s not possible to compare the student proficiency levels of one state with another, for a lot of complicated reasons. So don’t leap to the unwarranted conclusion that public education is getting better results in state A over state B.

But now for the key finding. Quoting:

“Vermont is among a group of states that use the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test to measure student performance in English and math for students in 3rd through 8th grades and 11th grade…. Students who score proficient or above have mastered the material and are ready for the next grade….The average percentage of students achieving proficiency this year in Vermont was 48.4 percent, down from 50.92 percent last year.”

Did you get that? Half of our public school students finishing their respective school years are not ready to advance to the next grade –  measured by Vermont’s own proficiency standards, which may be too high, or too low – who’s to say?

For a billion and a half dollars every year, it seems to me that we ought to be getting better than fifty percent proficiency.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Clara Schoppe January 15, 2018 at 10:21 pm

All I can say is that I agree with you 100%.

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Stuart Lindberg January 15, 2018 at 11:42 pm

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong. Know-it-alls in the school system do not lose one dime or one hour’s sleep if their bright ideas turn out to be all wrong, or even disastrous, for the child.” Thomas Sowell

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Donna Goodhue January 16, 2018 at 2:14 am

The problem is that some of the special ed kids cannot read the questions. These students may be in 8th grade, but are doing 5th grade or lower work. It would be far better to test students at the beginning, middle, and end of the year. Is there improvement? In addition, the SBACs are on computers, using a split screen. Some students have difficulty testing that way.

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