Monday, September 28, 2015

Playing Politics with Children's Futures

This article this morning only partially explains why district superintendents are not satisfied with the foot dragging by State Superintendent White in producing vital PARCC test data. The issue is about much more than just determining the best format for reporting test results to the schools and to the parents.

Over the weekend, White sent district superintendents an email memo attempting to justify the long delays in producing data.  Also in apparent exasperation White pointed out that for the first time, local superintendents asked that he produce the raw student scores. Well here is the back-story to all this secrecy and intrigue at the LDOE and why the raw scores have never before been reported.

This blog in several posts based on public records requests has exposed mounting evidence that White and his staff and the testing companies have systematically been lowering the passing scores on almost all of the state accountability tests. Here are some examples: 39% on the 7th grade math test and 41% on the 8th grade math test is considered passing according to the cut score. Geometry is down to only 32% for passing.

The cut score setting process is made to look like its only about making small adjustments that are needed to make sure that various test forms are compatible based on test difficulty. But the changes can add up to huge differences in the number of students being rated as performing on grade level and even in passing the end-of-course tests in recent years. The same could very well be true of the new PARCC test. That’s why the raw scores are important. You can’t tamper with the actual percentage of correct answers the students got on the tests unless you want to go to jail like the educators in Atlanta are doing. But you can easily manipulate the scale test scores and accomplish the same results.

Our superintendents, principals and teachers have been busting their butts the last few years to raise test scores even though they know in their hearts that it is killing all the joy of teaching and learning. You would think that they would be happy to quietly go along with getting a little help from the cut score setting process. It turns out that they have too much integrity to go along with this sleazy process. They feel that if we are going to test our students into the ground we at least owe them and their parents an honest analysis of how they really did on the tests. That’s what the raw score tells us. It is simply the old fashioned way of reporting the actual percentage of correct answers the student got on the test. What could be simpler than that? Now later if the LDOE comes up with different forms of the test that have different difficulty they can use scale scores to level the playing field.

There is another big reason the test scores are being delayed. From all indications so far in other states, this PARCC test is a very, very bad test. It will produce very, very low raw scores. It is also a major indication that some of the Common Core standards are not well thought out, are not age appropriate, and are simply too impractical to test. White and his groupies in the business community, who are being totally duped, don’t want anything negative to come out about the PARCC and the CCSS especially before the BESE elections. But how can so called educators such as White and his bunch be against finding out the truth about this whole new untested rushed out program. Why can’t we fix what’s wrong for the benefit of our students?

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