Saturday, September 19, 2015

Breaking News! The PARCC Cut Scores Have Been Set but Still No Results Released by LDOE

The PARCC cut scores for each level of performance have now been released by the PARCC consortium and other states are already starting the process of informing parents about how their children scored on the PARCC tests. The lowest passing score for Louisiana students is supposed to be level 3 performance which the PARCC consortium has decided will be represented by a score of 725 out of a possible 850 points.

Please click on this link to see how the Illinois Department of Education plans to inform each parent about the performance of his/her child on the new PARCC tests similar to the PARCC tests given in Louisiana this Spring.

For example, on the 5th grade math test the possible scale scores range from 650 to 850. In many cases these scale scores bear little relationship to the percentage of questions the student answered correctly. For example, suppose a student got frustrated or ill and did not answer any of the questions. He just gave his name or ID on his test form and could not answer any of the questions. My understanding is that this student would still get a score of 650. Suppose that another student answered 25 questions correctly out of 75 questions on the test. If the raw cut score for level 2 performance is 26 out of 75, then that student would be awarded a score between 650 and 700 and still be rated at level #1. That's the same as the student who answered none of the questions correctly. Does this make any sense to you?

This is just one example of how obscure and non-senseical the grading on these PARCC tests can be.
Most parents and teachers understand the concept of a raw score. The raw score for a particular child is the percentage of questions that the student got right. For example, a raw score of 33.3% on the test above means that the student got 25 out of 75 questions right.  But the only score the parent will see for the above test is the scale score a little below 700 out of a possible 850 points. To most people that looks like the student got over 80% of the test correct. To add to this confusion, the parent of the child who answered none of the questions correctly would seem to have almost as good a score. How are these parents going to know how much material their children really know? It seems to me that these manufactured scale scores will do much more to confuse and mislead parents and teachers than the old fashioned raw percentage scores would have done.

Yet John White has stated in this Advocate story that parents would somehow get a better understanding of their child's performance by knowing his/her scale score (and never knowing the raw score). He said: "It (the raw score) doesn't give a cogent analysis of how well a child did or how a group of kids did on the test." That's why he wants us to wait until November when the testing contractor will have calculated the scale scores. But wait a minute. We were told originally that our students scores would be compared at least to all the other PARCC states. So that would imply that all such states would be grading their students using the same criteria and the same scale. We are informed here that the PARCC consortium representing all PARCC states has basically completed its task of setting the all important cut scores for each level of achievement. Louisiana has been sent its results for the PARCC test. The official cut score for level 2 performance is 700. The official cut score for level 3 performance (which is the level Louisiana will be using initially for a passing score) is 725. Why must we wait for another level of score setting to occur? If you just plug in those cut scores it takes a computer about a millisecond to give us the percentage of our students scoring at each level. But White wants us to wait until November! Does this look a bit fishy to you?

Oh, and one other thing. Notice how in this most recent story White freely gives his opinion about how our students did on the PARCC. "Results will show that we have a long way to go." So he has obviously seen the results! Why is he the only one allowed to see the results until November? This is making a mockery of the concept of transparency. Not to mention the fact that we were told that these test results would be sooooo useful. But White wants to keep sitting on those important results. Remember what I said before about a chicken that sets on eggs too long.

5 comments: said...

They haven't finished COOKING THE NUMBERS.

KimberlyDtchr said...

Thank you for the posting and the embedded links, Mr Deshotels. Vehemently-opposed to Mr White, PARCC, and CCSS you are; however, you always provide access to the substantiating evidence of your assertions. I would like to suggest, as I have in divers times/social media sites, that part of the "problem" is the industrial-styled "grade level, grading scale" manner in which we continue to educate our children. My primary issue professionally with the Common Core State Standards has been the developmental appropriateness of particular standards. I believe it is time to consider doing away with "first grade, second grade, "A+", "C-", and so forth. Instead perhaps a developmental checklist in which clustered/related standards would be taught (or their learning "facilitated") and assessed for mastery should replace a somewhat arbitrary age-based grade system. Students would not be "held back" in their learning and would not be "rushed" to learn a non-differentiated set of expected outcomes for a specified time-frame. Of course, given Act 1 and "teacher accountability" could intrude upon that system as well, likewise corrupting good intentions with all-out bad ones.

Thanks again for supporting public school students, families, teachers, school faculties via your blogs. One may never know the true scope of influence borne.

Michael Deshotels said...

Kimberly, you make excellent points. You know, as a very young teacher I used to believe that a student should never be promoted to the next grade untill he/she had mastered the material in the current grade. I gave up that flawed philosophy oveer 40 years ago because I soon came to understand that there are huge variations in students abilities, talents and interests. If we actually applied equal standards for promotion to all students we would be guaranteed to leave millions of students behind accross the nation who would be humiliated, stigmatized and destroyed simply because they were not all average or above in the academic standards we would set. Of course that is the main problem with Common Core or any other attempted standardization of achievement for all students. I now believe that every child has something extremely valuable to offer to society and to her/his own happiness and fullfillment. We must educate all children to the maximum of their potential and talents, not to some arbitrary pre-conceived standard. Neither of course should we punish or reward teachers based on student achievement that they mostly do not really control. We must restore sanity to education.

Anonymous said...

White said " we have a long way to go." Where exactly is what I'd like to know! Since he is the one who keeps changing directions, won't be specific with "our" destination and keeps cutting the budget for this educational trip to me we aren't going anywhere with any sense of purpose or destination at all! I feel more like all public school students, teachers and parents have been kidnapped by idiots who now realize they messed up, can't string together enough lies to pull this off and because we have seen their faces, might as well kill public education in the state of Louisiana!! As voters we could end this! said...

Mike, as usual you are spot on. Thanks for STANDING for ou children and teachers. When will enough become enough?