Are Common Core Scores Objective Measures?

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In the Friday, July 18, 2014 issue of Soundview Rising

A recent news report stated that New York
State high school students will have their Common
Core-based test scores in English and algebra
adjusted, as the deputy state education
commissioner said stability of passing rates is
sought.
While on a scale of one to five – with
“three” considered proficiency – the new scoring
will adjust the scales so that the same number
of students are considered “proficient” on
these state tests. It is claimed this new “objective”
test data will be combined with subjective
data to make educational decisions for students.
Instead of a pre-determined passing score,
the scoring will be adjusted to previous levels
of proficiency observed. Therefore, if l0 percent
failed last year’s test, 10 percent will fail this
year on the Common Core test and the same
percent of students who scored proficient last
year will be proficient this year.
Similarly, the 5 percent highest scorers will
still be rated as the 5 percent highest in proficiency
this year, even if these scores are much
lower.
To be considered a “normal” distribution
of scores, statistical models of test scores often
show that 68 percent of the scores are in
the middle of the distribution, with 34 percent
of the scores below the middle and 34 percent
above the middle. Since this is an established
principle of “normal” distributions, it can easily
explain the State Department of Education’s
reasoning when it claims it will adjust test
scores to previous levels of performance. However,
it leaves open the questions of why this
option was selected.
Follow-up of this change in scoring has
been swift.
Reacting to the discord over Common
Core, especially the testing system, the New
York State Council of School Superintendents
suggested the emphasis should be on challenging
instruction, and is appealing to Gov. Andrew
Cuomo and the Regents board to be more
attentive to the views of educators. Parents in
New York City reacted to this “deal” reached
by the New York State Legislature, calling it a
“slap in the face to parents across the state” who
have implored lawmakers to lessen the amount
of student testing, and to also improve instruction
and exams.
In Westchester there are reports that students
are working in the computer-based system
“Cloud” in the schools, which is available
24 hours per day to students, parents, and teachers
by computer or digital pad. One principal
commented that this allows students to learn
on the electronics they’re accustomed to using.
About l9 districts in this area have moved to this
“Cloud,” which will allow districts to implement
online testing when the state mandates it.
However, some say that while students
may be experienced with electronics, that is no
indication computer instruction is a superior
way to educate students; previous studies by
scholars have shown that there is no “best” way
to learn.

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