Stop playing games with our children
To the Editor:
The New York State Education Department recently released the 2013 grade 3-8 ELA and math test scores. At the end of the month, parents will be able to log on to the state education website to find their children’s scores. Many parents and children will be disappointed, perhaps even discouraged, as they head into a new school year.
All passing or cut scores are determined after the tests have been graded, not before. Last year, before the tests were taken, State Education Commissioner John King predicted a 30-point drop on the passing rate. He delivered on his promise by indexing “passing” to what is considered “proficient” on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
NAEP’s three scoring benchmarks of basic, proficient and advanced have been so controversial and challenged of their validity by the scientific community that each report actually comes with this disclaimer: “NCES [National Center for Education Statistics] has determined that NAEP achievement levels should continue to be used on a trial basis and should be interpreted with caution.”
Essentially, either because they don’t understand what the NAEP score benchmarks mean or because they are trying to manipulate parents into thinking their schools are failing, when in fact they are not, King and the Board of Regents, led by Merryl Tisch, have decided that all children not performing at an A level are not up to par.
Had they indexed passing to NAEP’s “basic,” which is, according to the National Assessment Governing Board, students who show “partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work at each grade,” then the passing rate would have been much better and parents would have greater confidence in their public schools. Instead, there is now confusion and uncertainty.