Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cut Scores

Well, it's just too much of a pain to append a table in Blogger, so I'll simply report briefly on the 3–8 2010 test scores for Dryden. Statewide across the grades, 52.8 percent of students succeeded in ELA, which is to say they scored a 3 or 4 rather than a 1 or 2. Statewide, 63.3 percent of students succeeded in math, ditto. It's fair to say that these are not good numbers. In most places, 52.8 percent is not a passing grade.

And Dryden? At DES, students in grades 3, 4, and 5 came in below those statewide means in ELA and math. At Cassavant, where only 20 took the test in grade 3, students did much better, which is to say that 70 percent passed both ELA and math. At Dryden Middle School, students in grade 6 ELA beat the mean, but students in 7 and 8 and in 6, 7, and 8 math did not.

There will be a lot of chat in the upcoming days about "it's a snapshot, not the whole picture" plus comparisons and contrasts among districts and across years. I have stopped caring about all that. What I care about right now is the fact that only half of our students (and not many more statewide) are passing a test that supposedly assesses overall performance in reading and math.

Here's a statistic that might give you pause: Our community colleges spend $2 billion annually on remediation, yet fewer than a quarter of those remedial students earn an associate's degree college within eight years.

Well, when things look bad, change the test. That's what will happen in 2014, when we start phasing in Next Generation Assessments based on the Common Core State Standards. The good news is that those tests will be standards-based and correlated through those standards to requirements for college and career. They will require a lot more in the way of long answers and project-y type work rather than just multiple choice and an occasional essay. The bad news is that it's hard to imagine kids doing better (and easy to imagine them faring far, far worse) on those more rigorous tests than they did on the ones they just took.

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