The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), representing the nation’s secondary school leaders, strongly urges policymakers to delay the use of Common Core assessment results for accountability purposes. Specifically, we call for a delay in invoking penalties and sanctions related to test scores on schools, principals, and teachers until we have had at least two years of experience with the assessments.
To be clear, our commitment to the CCSS remains strong. NASSP has long-supported rigorous, common standards that raise the bar for all students regardless of zip code and reset expectations from high school completion to college- and career-readiness. We knew all along that the standards would require massive changes, which schools currently lack the capacity to undertake. And so, from the start, we viewed CCSS implementation as a long-term improvement process to shift rigorous course content down through the grades, retrain teachers, integrate literacy across content areas, develop higher-order thinking skills, apply skills to real-world situations, introduce a new generation of assessments, and migrate from paper to online assessments.
No one is more invested than the nation’s principals in the success of the Common Core initiative. But we fear that the timing dooms the initiative to failure. School leaders across the country have voiced concern that they simply feel unprepared for the new tests—tests that no one has even seen. More than merely seeing the test, of course, educators require intensive training, aligned curricula, instructional materials and resources, and opportunities for students to experience new assessments.
The implementation needs alone require time—time for which the proposed accountability schedule does not allow. Yet we didn’t expect that the complex CCSS implementation would be accompanied by two additional, similarly complex initiatives: new teacher evaluations tied to student performance, and new accountability systems.
The pending scenario is frightening: Students take new tests crafted to higher standards for which they have not been prepared. Proficiency rates drop just in time for new teacher evaluations based up to 50% on test scores. It’s the perfect blueprint to discredit public schools, but sadly inadequate if we aim to improve them. Policymakers, at this moment, must decide which path they prefer.
NASSP, NAESP, AASA, NSBA May 29, 2013 joint press release.