professornana (professornana) wrote,
professornana
professornana

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CUT it out

Cut scores. I wonder how many outside of education know what cut scores are and how they are determined. ETS defines cut scores thusly, "Cut scores are selected points on the score scale of a test. The points are used to determine whether a particular test score is sufficient for some purpose." And therein lies a huge problem. Scores are selected after a test has been administered. I wondered about this when Texas began testing many years ago. It seemed as though the passing scores for the tests moved. Turns out that educational reformers have been doing a bit of cutting, too. Because if you set a cut score at a particular point, you can pretty much determine how many pass and how many fail an exam.

Anthony Cody gives us an example of how this happens here: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2014/06/common_core-aligned_tests_and_.html. The chart was mind-blowing. Look what happened in one sate when Pearson took over the GED test and testing. Cody suggests some reasons why cut scores might be adjusted. They seem almost dystopic, don't they.

Carol Burris wrote about cut scores several months ago in The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/04/29/the-scary-way-common-core-test-cut-scores-are-selected/. Yet, somehow, there has been no outrage over how scores are selected, how we can move kids from passing to failing.

Why are we so obsessed with numbers? I encounter students of all ages who become crazed if they do not receive full credit or the highest grade. Even at the graduate level I receive pleas from students for just a few more points. I wonder if this obsession is a direct result of all the measurement we do? What happens to those who do not measure up?

In the last couple of weeks, some of our educational leaders demonstrated a severe lack of understanding about "scores" when they began pointing out that special education students never seem to catch up with other students.

Linda Darling-Hammond commented on test scores in a recent article as eel: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-darlinghammond/to-close-the-achievement_b_5542614.html. In tis instance she is talking about VAM, using test scores from students to measure the teaching effectiveness of their instructors. She concludes: "The United States is the only country in which students are tested annually with external, multiple-choice standardized tests, with scores reduced to a value-added metric assigned to teachers. Aside from the wide error range found to be associated with these metrics, they offer no information about what students actually did, said, or thought that could help teachers improve their practice."

It is time to CUT it out, folks. It is time to tell parents that the score their kids receive on so many of these tests is not a measure of their kids but something that has been manipulated. In some instances the manipulators have monetary interests to protect. Some achieve political capital. All at the expense of the children.
Tags: ccss, idiocy, scores, tests
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