Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Whitewashing the Regents Cut Scores

Bob Lowry in the EdVANTAGE Blog misses the point.

Diane Ravitch is explaining that NY tests are getting easier and ... "As evidence for her conclusion, Dr. Ravitch notes declines in the percentage of questions students must answer correctly to be deemed meeting state standards on the grades 3 through 8 assessments, or passing a Regents exam have fallen. For example, she notes that, (snipping here) 2006, students had to earn 60 percent ... 2009, it was just 44 percent."

Then Bob produces this gem which, while true in many cases, misses the point here:
"This analysis omits a critical step in the development of state assessments — the process of equating tests so that the same score on different administrations of a test can can be said to reflect the same level of student performance."
Really, now. A 16-point steady downward spiral is not "equating the scores" unless the test writers are continuously ramping up the difficulty. No, it's a state DOE desperately trying to pull its students' averages up by whatever means necessary (pun intended - it's early yet).

As was pointed out yesterday, a statistician (and frankly most teachers knew, too) noted that many students are passing these tests by guessing.

Want more proof? Try this sentence from that Post article.
The number of sixth-graders scoring the bottom Level 1 dropped from 10% in 2006, when twice as many points were required, to 0.2% this year.
If you have four levels and the bottom level contains 0.2% of the student population, then you are DEFINITELY playing fast and loose with your testing scores. The functionally illiterate, the number of kids who don't even speak the language, the number of in-school dopehead drop-out-wanna-bes, will all be far more than that.

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