Monday, October 12, 2015

Conversion Tables Reveals White Lowering the Bar. . . . Again!

Release of Secret Conversion Tables for PARCC Forced by Public Records Request. 

Louisiana citizens will be the first ones in the PARCC testing group to see the critical conversion tables, that are used for producing the scale scores.  It only happened because of a formal public records request and the threat of a lawsuit against White for withholding public records.

The 33 member citizens public records request filed on October 1, included a request for a copy of the conversion tables for converting raw PARCC scores to the new PARCC scale scores. Those conversion tables were finally released by White today along with a calculation of the percentage of students scoring Basic, Mastery and Advanced. The newspapers will give you the percentages of students deemed performing satisfactory by the setting of the cut scores but the subject of this post is the lowering of the academic bar once again by Superintendent White.

Those conversion tables reveal absurdly low cut scores for ratings of Basic and Mastery. The percentage of students getting a rating or Basic or above depend upon BESE adopting the lowest passing scores in the history of Accountability testing in Louisiana! (by far)

Would you believe that White's cut scores for Basic performance on the 3rd grade English-Language Arts test would require students to only get 30% of the available raw points on the test correct to get a rating of Basic?

A student can receive a rating of Basic on 7th grade math by getting a grand total of 23% of the raw points. A similar level of absurdity of White's "raising the bar" is reached when the conversion tables reveal a cut score of 22% on the 8th grade math test.

The highest cut score for Basic among the 12 PARCC/Common Core tests is the pitiful standard of 37% on the 8th grade ELA test.

When superintendents and citizens started asking for the old fashioned raw scores on these controversial tests, White protested that only scale scores were useful in describing student performance to parents. So with the adoption of these scale scores by BESE, parents of a child who got only 22% of the math questions right would be awarded 725 points out of a possible total of 850 points and declared to be performing at a level of Basic! How does that make any sense? But the strangest result of all is that students who score zero raw points up to 4 points out of a possible 80 points will all get a scale score of 650 points!

I believe that this highly skewed and misleading point system was developed by the PARCC Consortium after they discovered that students all over the country would have totally flunked these tests by any other rational scoring system. So they dreamed up this phony scale system to pretend that most students had done OK on the tests. They never intended to release the raw scores to anyone, and certainly never intended for any citizen to see the conversion tables for producing the scale scores from the raw scores. Remember what I said some time ago about making sausage.

So I suppose the rubber stamp members of BESE will hold their noses tomorrow and approve White's absurdly low cut scores camouflaged as scale scores. This is how the multi-million dollar testing industry maintains control of our schools and siphons off scarce tax dollars even when they saddle our students with defective tests. Remember how the big banks got a free ride with our tax dollars even when their fraudulent home loans almost crashed the economy of the world? The same is true when the experiments on our children by the testing company fail.

Here are the various forms by which PARCC cut scores can be reported:

  • 3rd grade ELA- Basic = 725 scale score = 29.6/100 = 30% of possible points
  • 3rd grade Math - Basic = 725 scale score = 27/81 = 33% of possible points
  • 4th grade ELA- Basic = 725 scale score = 32/104 = 31% of possible points
  • 4th grade Math - Basic = 725 scale score = 30.4/82 = 37% of possible points
  • 5th grade ELA - Basic = 725 scale score = 29/104 = 28% of possible points
  • 5th grade Math - Basic = 725 scale score = 27.4/82 = 33% of possible points
  • 6th grade ELA - Basic = 725 scale score = 40/137 = 27% of possible points
  • 6th grade Math - Basic = 725 scale score = 22/82 = 27% of possible points
  • 7th grade ELA - Basic = 725 scale score = 39/135 = 29% of possible points
  • 7th grade Math - Basic - 725 scale score = 19/82 = 23% of possible points
  • 8th grade ELA - Basic - 725 scale score = 51/137 = 37% of possible points
  • 8th grade Math - Basic - 725 scale score = 17.3/80 = 22% of possible points

I am convinced that these tests are not valid for measuring our student performance or for rating our schools.


caryn jenkins said...

Do you have the other ratings, i.e. master, advanced, etc?

Michael Deshotels said...

Yes, I have all the recommended cut scores and the corresponding raw scores. I did not include them in this article for the sake of brevity, but I will print then in a post within the next couple of days.

Reinventing Fran said...

Are there national percentiles to compare a student's performance across other states?

Kimberly Kunst Domangue said...

Mr. Deshotels, I have a question:

Are the levels on the PARCC associated to MAP RIT (NWEA) or Lexile text complexity levels? I read this post, and then I began to think of the number scores for the afore mentioned ... and they seemed connected somehow. Are they?

With regard to the "cut scores": Were they set "low" not to "lower standards" but so as to more accurately depict subject/content matter/skills that have actually been addressed in the Louisiana curriculum documents? Could it be that as the curriculum mapping/choices/and standards review & revision continue that the "cut scores" will gradually be elevated to reflect the greater alignment to what has actually been taught in our Louisiana classrooms?

I appreciate the work you have done to request the public documents: Transparency leads to an educated electorate, which will then make good choices for our Louisiana students and public schools. They simply need to be adequately informed.

Therefore, in that spirit, would you please direct me to answers regarding my inquiry? Direct me to sources that will?

**PARCC Governing Board had links to webinars this fall to explain the grade reports:

**Ms. Diane Ravitch reposted a Russ on Reading post regarding text complexity levels and PARCC:

doombot50 said...

Being an 8th grader at Sherwood Middle Magnet last year, and having took that test, I can tell you the math portion was HARD!!!!!!!!!!!! we had no idea what the questions were even asking. Hopefully Im a good guesser

Alter ego said...


I am not aware of any attempt to align the PARCC scaled scores to the Lexile levels. PARCC gives a brief description of the cut score setting process here:

In that description, there is no indication that the scale scores would be intended align to any other assessment. If somehow there is an inadvertent alignment to the Lexiles, it would have most likely been through the level descriptors given to the committees that met over the summer.

I strongly believe that a significant part of ours and the national push for new assessments was/is to reset the baselines to lower scores so we can register a period of "growth" again just like when NCLB was first instituted. (Was NCLB ever wise policy? Need we go through a repeat of its punitive policies striving for its aspirational, but unrealistic, goal of 100 percent proficiency?)

In Louisiana, the LEAP/iLEAP scores plateaued at about 69% proficiency two years ago. Likewise, three of our four oldest EOCs (Algebra I, English II, Biology) have peaked and proficiency rates are slowly falling. Geometry proficiency rates are still climbing, but the raw score required for Good has been lowered five years in a row. (I find it hard to believe that the yearly lowering of the raw score requirement was simply due to test equating.) The EOCs replaced the GEE, on which scores had peaked and were in slow decline when it was replaced.

Given the new test format and associated standards, proficiency rates are virtually guaranteed to rise as teachers and students learn new test taking strategies and focus better on the new test content. This will cause scores to rise whether the standards are better or not.

We saw EOC Good-or-Excellent proficiency rates rise by 15 points in each subject the first four years of the first four tests. I do not believe that that many students truly left high school with that much more knowledge than before. I think most of the gains came from attaching high stakes to the tests for students and schools in 2011 and 2012, and teachers and students becoming familiar with the tests and the associated test-taking strategies. I call this the new-test score-rise effect.

To ensure a new growth phase on the Common-Core Assessments, the tests had to be made very different from what the students and teachers were accustomed. That ensured low raw scores which have little room to fall, but much room for improvement. Low scores have been predicted for a long time -it was a selling point.

My frustration is that there will be no way to compare past student performance to the present and future. I completely object to that aspect of the switchover, and I object in advance to declaring Common Core a success based on test scores which will rise due to the new-test score-rise effect that does not actually reflect improved student outcomes, but rather students adapting to a new test style. We will not have a way to separate test score gains made by improved teaching and learning from those made by adapting to the new format.

A final note. The actual cut scores should (will) not be changed once they are set. That has been standard procedure since NCLB. The cut scores are specific points on the scale scores. It is the transformation tables that convert the raw scores into the scaled scores that are adjusted from test-form to test-form. The cut scores always remain unchanged.

BESE will now have to decide how to move the proficiency requirement gradually through the level three range (Basic) to the level four cut score (Mastery) over a period of ten years in the school accountability formulas. BESE might also revisit how the high stakes affect promotion of the student.

I agree with the need for transparency but go one step farther. I believe there should be consistency for measurement against past performance. That is what is missing in all of the changeover.

Wishing you the best,
Herb Bassett

Michael Deshotels said...

Kimberly, I believe Herb has answered your questions much better than I could, but to add just a bit more I believe part of the problem with the PARCC tests and the CCSS in general is that much of the material in the standards and the test are not culture and developmentally appropriate. For example, some experts have pointed out that the reading level of many of the word problems in math is too advanced or too "white upper class" to be fair to many students who have grown up in a much different environment than ivy leaguers kids. So they end up losing points on the math test because of less sophistication in reading skills. Is that fair to them or to the teachers and schools that will be rated using our test score focused rating systems? White and his fellow reformers have attempted to reduce the education process to test scores and their constant improvement.

Herb's analysis of the "new-test-score-rise-affect" is right on target. We are testing for the sake of testing instead of testing for the sake of education. Sure enough, White and his bureaucrats can engineer various test score improvements that do not do anything to really improve the education of children. But they keep adopting new test based cycles of reform. From No Child Left Behind to Race to the Top and now to College readiness for everyone. All doomed to failure by the false premise upon which they were based. When will someone lead an era of true reform based on the love of learning that were exemplified by leaders like Horace Mann and Thomas Jefferson.

We must somehow break this cycle of test and punish based on the assumption that all children are identical and therefore should meet the same stilted standards, and go back to focusing on each child and his unique talents and interests. That would be real reform.

Anonymous said...

We have had so many failures in trying to overturn White's agenda. Do we have any successes?

This site does a great job in exposing White's devious maneuverings, but I see no major newspapers publicizing this information. Why? Mr. Deshotel, can you submit this information on the raw scores directly to our state's major newspapers? If it is not published, how will the general public realize that many political candidates for BESE, in addition to John White, are spouting lies?

Michael Deshotels said...

I have spoken to most of the newspapers, but I am sad to say that most of them believe phony scores put out by White. Sentell of the Advocate knows that White is misleading the public but his editors expect him to protect White from any negative publicity expecially right before the BESE elections. I am sorry if this sounds like conspiracy theories but this is the world we live in. The reformers have convinced the media that each insane wave of reform will work even if none of the previous ones have. Teachers and students are the victims.

Anonymous said...

I would be interested in knowing the raw cut scores used to set the Mastery and Advanced levels now that the school scores have been released. Do you know when you will be releasing those numbers?