What in the world was the state thinking?
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“Did the students suddenly become stupid,” Ravitch asks, referring to the results on the most-recent test. “Did their teachers become suddenly incompetent overnight? Did schools fail en masse? None of the above. The state Board of Regents, having decided that the old tests were too easy, changed the tests and raised the passing mark. Three years ago, they did something similar — raising the passing grade on the grounds that the tests were too easy, the bar too low. This time, however, the state has aligned the tests with a set of ostensibly national standards known as the Common Core, which have been heavily promoted by the Obama administration as a measure of college and career readiness. But Common Core has never been subject to trial or field-testing anywhere. No one knows whether it measures or predicts readiness for college and career readiness. Nobody has explained why eight-year-old students in America should be tested to see if they are on a path for college. As for careers, most of them probably want to be cowboys, police officers or astronauts.”
She added, “The scores should not be taken seriously. There is no science involved in setting the passing mark. It is a judgment call. It is subjective. State Education Commissioner King and Regents Chancellor Tisch could have set a passing mark wherever the chose. They chose to set the bar so high that most students would fail. This is like raising the hoop higher in a basketball game or pushing the wall further back in a baseball game to make it harder to score.”
One last comment, this one from New York City principal Carol Burris, who was recently named the state’s teacher of the year.