Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why are the NYS ELA and Math Scores Invalid?

  * Flawed test construction:

  • Tests were too long; even high achieving students did not finish
  • Vague questions
  • Passages from test maker Pearson’s text books used, thus giving some students an advantage

* Formula used to determine “cut scores” is flawed and not supported by scientific research:     (“cut scores” are the cut-off scores for determining proficiency)

  • Cut scores for the assessments were not developed until AFTER the tests were administered and scored. THIS SUGGESTS THAT THE DATA IS HIGHLY VULNERABLE TO MANIPULATION.

  • NYSED identified the top 8-20th % scores on the NAEP, SAT and PSAT and used these scores to work backwards and determine the scores a child must receive on state assessments in grades 3-8 to eventually meet these benchmarks.  In other words, in order to be proficient on a NYS test, ALL students must achieve scores comparable to the top 8-20% of students in the country. This is too high and sets children up for failure.

  • Research that shows that high scores on these tests are not effective indicators of performance in college. High school grades are in fact a better indicator of college performance.

  • Tests like the NAEP and the SAT are not curriculum measures and therefore, are not appropriate for determining cut scores on the NYS ELA and Math tests.

*No oversight or transparency in scoring or test construction:

  • The tests were not and will not be made available in their entirety for public inspection, and were destroyed after being scored and sent back to the state.

  • Teachers involved in scoring the tests and those hired to make recommendations to the Commissioner of Education regarding the formulation of cut scores were made to sign non-disclosure agreements.

* Not designed to improve student learning

  • Due to test secrecy and the fact that scores are received after the school year has ended, there is no opportunity for teachers to review the tests and provide students with extra support in areas of weakness.

*Test scores vary too much to be considered valid:

  • Over the past seven years, proficiency scores on the NY math and ELA have been characterized more than once by fluctuations of almost 30 points. When scores vary this widely, the reliability of the data is questionable.

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