LINCOLN–State education officials have raised the achievement bar for Nebraska students so they can keep up academically with students across the nation, Nebraska Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt said Friday.
Blomstedt released the results of the first statewide assessment done since state education standards were reformed in 2014.
“The standards are required by state statute to be updated on a seven year cycle, and not only that, but when looking across the country, we see that college and career readiness is the new benchmark, and we don’t want Nebraska to fall behind,” Blomstedt said.
The college and career readiness tests start when students enter the third grade, and they continue through eighth grade. In high school, the ACT is used as the assessment test.
Blomstedt said his department is working on getting the data out to the schools and parents, although that is still a work in progress.
He also reminded the public that when looking at these results based on the new standards, test scores are not dropping. They may look lower than in the past, but that is because in the past, the standard was lower.
Instead of labeling standard categories as “Below Expections”, “Meets Expectations” and “Exceeds Expectations,” the new performance level descriptions are “Level 1”, “Level 2” and “Level 3”.
The latter names do not mean the same as the former. When looking at the data, the number of students in the lowest category is higher than the past. That is because the benchmark of the assessment is college and career readiness. While students could meet or exceed expectations, they may not be ready for college.
The assessment found that many students are reaching the standards in the English and language arts, where the standards wereraised this year.
Blomstedt said once the new assessment system has been in place for a while, the results are expected to rise because teachers do their best to align the curriculum with the department standards, and they try to adjust where they need to.
“Our primary mission, when I come back to it, is leading in learning, earning and living,” said Blomstedt. “It’s beyond just assessments.”