Latino and African Americans hit new lows in standardized tests
Over the past three years, Pennsylvania's standardized test scores have declined, according to the State Department of Education's report.
The federal filing reports for 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14, show the percentage of all students in Pennsylvania who scored below basic, basic, proficient or advanced on state standardized tests, such as PSSA, Keystone Exams and PASA, in reading and math over the past three years.
According to the 2013-14 report, 72 percent of all PA students are proficient and above in math and 70 percent are proficient and above in reading. The numbers begin to look more bleak when broken down into select demographics such as “economically disadvantaged,” Latino, African American and “English language learner”.
Of those deemed “economically disadvantaged,” 56 percent of them performed proficient or above in math and 54 percent performed proficient or above in reading. For English language learners, 30 percent scored proficient or above in math and 17 percent scored proficient or above in reading.
For Latino students, 53 percent scored proficient or above in math. In 2011-12 school year, that number was 57 percent. 25 percent of Latino students performed below basic in math in 2013-14. This school year, 49 percent of Latinos scored proficient or above in reading, while 29 percent scored below basic.
For African American students, 46 percent scored proficient or above in math, while 31 percent scored below basic. In 2011-12 school year, 51 percent performed proficient or above. In reading, 46 percent perform proficient or above, while 32 percent perform below basic.
Due to various standardized test cheating scandals within the past five years, the PA Department of Education has made numerous changes to tighten the security on the exams, as well as general test changes to make the tests harder. Part of the reason why some students and schools may be struggling with these tests is that they are still trying to fit their curriculum to match these tests. The lack of education funding and mass teacher layoffs in the past few years do not help either.
2015 brings Tom Wolf, newly-elected state governor, with one of his priorities being prioritizing education funding.