Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Math, Mather, Mathest

WASHINGTON - APRIL 13:  U.S.  President George...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Math: Thank you, Richard Mills, for navigating NYS through the minefield of No Child Left Behind.  I can't imagine the pressure you've been under since 1995 as Commissioner of Education for New York State.


Mather: It's been nearly impossible for some states to resist the temptation to "dumb down" their tests to demonstrate compliance with federal NCLB guidelines.

Here's a link to the state's press release related to the NYS 2009 Math Exams http://www.oms.nysed.gov/press/Math3-8Results2009.htm

"At this juncture, it is appropriate to ask if we should be increasing the rigor of the current 3-8 testing system. To do this, we will carefully review data trends of the past four years." ~Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch
I believe a key data trend "of the past four years" is the drop in raw scores and percentage of points required to pass every test at every grade level since 2006.

Passing scores (at least 650 scaled score) are highlighted in yellow.  I copied and pasted information from http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/irts/ela-math/, "Raw Score to Scale Score Conversion Charts" in the public domain and compiled it into an easy-to-read spreadsheet.


Key statistic from this spreadsheet: A 7th grade student in 2006 needed to earn 60% of points available to pass the exam.  In 2009, a 7th grader only needed to earn 44% of points available to pass.  This trend exists at all grade levels, 3-8, from 2006-2009.


Mathest:  Has Richard Mills shrewdly overseen an increase in standards and an increase in NCLB scores?

Is Merryl Tisch preparing us for a significant drop in NCLB test scores in NYS next year?

Will this prompt a change in vendor?  The state is reviewing its 3-8 testing system and will be negotiating a new contract after the 2009-2010 school year.

I encourage you to peruse the following technical document which describes "Raw Score to Scale Score and SEM Conversion tables" by CTB/McGraw-Hill on page 74: http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/osa/pub/gr3-8math06report.pdf

The details are transparent only to a point.  Because "proprietary software" is used in the process of evaluating individual test items and relative difficulty of exams over time, and because it is impossible to gain access to this copyrighted information, it leaves open the question: Why has the raw score required to pass each grade level exam in NYS, at every grade level, remained constant or fallen every year since 2006?

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1 comment:

Mr. Mitchell said...

CTB / McGraw Hill has signed a contract to continue providing NCLB testing for New York State.