Love It or Hate It, Common Core is Giving Us Interesting Data About Black Student Achievement

Roughly ten states now use PARCC assessments. For the first time, this allows us to get a comparative standards based snapshot of how students are doing across numerous geographies.

Two caveats: because this is the first year of testing, we don’t yet have growth data; additionally, there  appear to be differences in results between the on-line and paper versions of the test, which seem to be more pronounced in later grades.

With these caveats in mind, early Common Core results (as measured by PARCC) indicate that Black students in Massachusetts and *New Orleans* are achieving at higher levels than many Black students across the country, including those in Washington D.C.

Over time, as growth data is included and test administration is cleaned up, we should have an even better data set with which to make stronger comparisons.


I created the table below to compare New Orleans African-American students and economically disadvantages students against the same subgroups in other places across all subjects in grades 3-8, with the hope that looking across grades and varied proficiency differentials might illuminate trends.

It should be noted that New Orleans students used paper and pencil versions, so in later grades especially this might result in inflated NOLA results. But as the chart details, New Orleans did well in 3rd and 4th grade as well (where other states saw less scoring differentials based on test type).

Green cells indicate where New Orleans students outperformed their peers; red cells indicate where they underperformed their peers.The numbers in the cell are +/- differential rates for how other geographies scored compared to NOLA proficiency.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 9.44.39 AM

You can download the spreadsheet here: nola-parcc-data-comparison

Overall, there is a lot of green.


Hopefully, over time, this type of data will tell us more about what’s working and what’s not – as well as what policy makers and educators might do to increase educational opportunity for all students.

So far, it’s exciting to see New Orleans students doing comparatively well.


Last thought: what do you think is the ratio of articles on coverage of the opt-out movement vs. coverage of what we might actually learn from the PARCC achievement results?


4 thoughts on “Love It or Hate It, Common Core is Giving Us Interesting Data About Black Student Achievement

  1. LRJ

    Really like that last question. Any suggestions on who could write article for Ed week- at least as a start?

    Sent from my iPad

  2. OnlyGoodBooks

    Hi, Neerav– I am very interested in these results, but I would also urge you to be very cautious about comparing results of students taking on-line vs. pencil tests. It probably goes without saying, but students who can’t type have a distinct disadvantage.

  3. David Osborne

    Great post; fascinating results. But I can’t open the downloaded file in Excel for some reason. So I have a question: What does “Cross-State” stand for?


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