What’s with those cut scores, anyhow?
The NYS Education Department started releasing school and district results from the new 3-8 ELA and math tests in August. As expected, the percentages of students hitting state targets were way down.
Why? The tests were harder. They were tied to the Common Core standards, which, in many cases, are higher than previous standards.
Some parents started seeing their kids’ scores on their computer and mobile portals later in August.
But lots of parents are getting the scores this week by snail mail. Many who don’t follow this stuff religiously will be surprised by the results.
The problem facing the state and the tests — and I write about this on LoHud.com and the Journal News tomorrow — is that a lot of people say the results are nonsense.
Why would they say that? The state found that roughly 60 percent of students in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam were NOT proficient in their subjects. In other words, they were not hitting state targets for their grade level. In other works, they were not where they needed to be on the path to “college and career readiness.”
But educators and parents around here say this can’t be the case. Most local districts are known for doing a fine job. They send almost all their grads to four-year colleges. And their grads do well in college.
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, a member of the Assembly Education Committee, met recently with a group of local school superintendents. They have a problem the validity of the state’s “cut scores,” which divide those test scores that indicate proficiency in a subject from those that do not.
“Kids do very well here,” Paulin told me. “The tests do not measure college-readiness. These tests do not even measure what they were intended to measure. That’s how poorly formed they are.”
Now, the state says that no one should really worry about the results. The tests were tougher. There is a new baseline for student achievement. Everyone has to catch up with the Common Core. Relax.
But Gov. Cuomo dropped the vague notion of a death penalty for failing schools a few weeks ago (?). So, I hear people say, how can the scores not be important?
Somehow, the state has to sell its test results — and the idea that most kids in New York, even the education-crazy northern suburbs, are not where they need to be.