Scores on school tests drop sharply

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“Did the students suddenly become stupid?” Ravitch asked, referring to this year’s test results. “Did their teachers become suddenly incompetent overnight? Did schools fail en masse? None of the above. The state Board of Regents, having decided that the old tests were too easy, changed the tests and raised the passing mark. Three years ago, they did something similar — raising the passing grade on the grounds that the tests were too easy, the bar too low. This time, however, the state has aligned the tests with a set of ostensibly national standards known as the Common Core, which have been heavily promoted by the Obama administration as a measure of college and career readiness. But Common Core has never been subject to trial or field-testing anywhere. No one knows whether it measures or predicts readiness for college and career readiness. Nobody has explained why eight-year-old students in America should be tested to see if they are on a path for college.”

Ravitch added, “The scores should not be taken seriously. There is no science involved in setting the passing mark. It is a judgment call. It is subjective. State Education Commissioner King and Regents Chancellor Tisch could have set a passing mark wherever they chose. They chose to set the bar so high that most students would fail. This is like raising the hoop higher in a basketball game or pushing the wall further back in a baseball game to make it harder to score.”

One Oceanside parent, who declined to be identified, said that the test was “meaningless” as far as she is concerned. “They tested a student’s knowledge and skills level on material and skills they have never learned, never practiced,” she said. “It’s like they had to walk a tightrope without any practice or skill in doing that. It was unfair to students and teachers, and many of the parents are angry. I think you’ll see many more parents opting out of the test after this.”

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