University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

PARCC Results for Schools and Districts

In The View from the OEP on January 20, 2016 at 2:10 pm

Although many parents have not yet received their student’s PARCC scores, last week school- and district- level PARCC results were released by the ADE.  It is important to note that results may be adjusted slightly once data appeals from districts are incorporated, but the preliminary information provides us here at OEP an opportunity to begin examining the scores!

The ADE released the information for each grade level, but we compiled the results to look at overall school and district performance. The data are available here on our website:

Algebra II and 11th grade literacy End-Of-Course results were not included to the school and district level summaries.  Why?  Because these assessments were optional last year, and so should not be used for comparative purposes. (Keep an eye out for this error when you consider sharing the school-ranking sites you see on Facebook!)

We have again calculated our ‘OEP GPA’ for each school.  Similar to grades that students receive, this indicator that gives the most credit (4 pts) to students who score at the highest level, and no credit to students who score at the lowest. We think this is a more informative value than overall percent meeting standards, because it rewards schools for student performing at the highest levels, and also provides points for students who are nearing expectations.

Some may wonder why we are talking about a test that has already been abandoned, but we want to be sure we don’t miss an  opportunity to learn something about how our schools are performing.  Although students will be taking a new test- the ACT Aspire- in just a few short months, here at the OEP we want to acknowledge the resources spent developing and taking the PARCC tests and learn whatever we can that may help improve education for our students.

Although it can be confusing to compare to prior performance on different tests,  here are some preliminary observations:

Proficiency rates are down.

From the state-level scores released in the fall, we knew that fewer students Met or Exceeded Expectations on the PARCC than had been identified as Proficient or Advanced on the prior exams exams. Now we can see that this pattern is true for schools and districts as well.

Does that mean our schools are doing worse than before?  Not necessarily. Since we are using different assessments, it can be difficult to determine if districts and schools are doing ‘better or worse’. Stay tuned for information about which schools demonstrated higher performance on the PARCC exams than we would have predicted!

Performance follows past trends.

Schools that were traditionally high performing on the previous exams scores relatively well on PARCC too.  This isn’t surprising – given that the assessments are still measuring academic skills in mathematics and English Language Arts. Although the expectations were higher, schools performing at the top are typically still at the top.

Does that mean schools didn’t improve?  No!  In fact, OEP will highlight specific schools that demonstrated large improvement from prior years.

Performance is associated with other factors too.

Just like on the prior assessments, schools with greater percentages of students participating in Free/Reduced Lunch programs (FRL) tend to have lower performance. The magnitude of the correlation (r= -0.63) is similar to prior years. This indicates that although performance declined, the PARCC tests were more difficult for all districts, not just districts with high FRL rates.

Does that mean students participating in FRL programs can’t meet standards?  No!  Of course not!  As we dig deeper into the data, OEP will highlight schools that are “Beating the Odds” and achieving high proficiency with their at-risk students.

It was the first (and last) time for PARCC tests, but we want to be sure we don’t miss an  opportunity to learn something about how our schools are performing. We will dig in and share what we learn- and if YOU have questions you want answered just let us know!

Stay tuned here for more information about the PARCC results!

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