Thank you for reading Manhattan Viewpoint. After nearly two years of postings each week and the addition of several "emergency" postings reflecting urgent updates, we have come to our 100th posting. With gratitude, the 100th posting is below.
New York State Fails Its Own Test
New York State's math test for grades 3 through 8 was exposed last week as a poor indicator of the quality of the math knowledge of our state's students.
The scoring guidelines provide partial credit for wrong answers and even for a complete lack of an attempted answer. The result is a lack of credibility for the results.
The NY Post gave examples of how the partial credit for wrong answers is explained to the scorers.
A fourth-grade child who answers that two feet is 48 inches instead of 24 inches gets half credit.
A child who divides 28 by 14 and gets 4 receives partial credit.
A child who sets up a division problem but does not attempt to answer the problem gets partial credit.
A child who subtracts 57 from 75 and gets 15 gets half credit.
A child who multiplies 35 by 10 and gets 150 gets half credit.
As one might imagine, there is considerable concern within our state about the meaningful credit that children are receiving for wrong answers. Given that the level of achievement on the test necessary to "pass" the test continues to decline over time, one wonders if simply providing wrong answers for partial credit can actually be enough to be considered "proficient" in math.
State Test Score Controversy
In May 2009, we examined the controversy regarding the NYC test scores on the state examination. The recent "partial credit" revelation combines with the already known lowering of the proficiency standard to explain the previously mystifying simultaneous rise in the performance of every major city in New York State.
This new information adds to the scrutiny that NYC's test scores will receive going forward. The artificial improvement in NYC test scores that has resulted from the idiosyncrasies of the NYS exam must be eliminated from the numbers in order to compare true educational progress from year to year.
New York State should work to reduce the extent to which its exam's scoring approach and proficiency standards convince students who are not prepared academically that they are indeed well prepared.