By Carol Burris
The mystery and complexity that surrounds the setting of test cut-scores evoke feelings of awe and puzzlement. It is a method as stupefying as those used by the Amazing Kreskin to make predictions and read minds. We, the audience, are to suspend our disbelief and accept the meaning attached to the number as if it were reality.
Which brings us to New York State’s recent cut-score process to find proficiency. New York State’s grades 3-8 cut scores caused the percentage of students deemed to be “proficient” on grade level to drop by 30 points. Yet, before the tests were even taken, John King, commissioner of education in New York State, was predicting the drop, while blaming “all of the adults” for so many kids not being prepared for high school and college.
So, how did New York’s Amazing Kreskin know how the scores would turn out before the kids even finished the test? How did he know that his committee of 95 educators would produce cut scores in line with his prediction? The answer is simple. The State Education Department knew the point drop because it had put in place a process that would create the predicted rates.
Fred Smith. Fred worked for many years as an assessment experts at the New York City Board of Education
Even if SED refuses to produce all of the 2013 operational items that it owns for our scrutiny, there is no justification for refusal to provide the statistical data we are demanding–because none of the data involve exposure of the items and their content. SED and Pearson have no legitimate excuses for keeping us in the dark based on the immediate availability and nature of the information we are seeking.The only way forward for all of us who want to have public schools that work is to cry out for sunshine, transparency and truth-in-testing. Short of that we can have no faith in anything coming out of Albany about its latest vision of reform. The messengers of bad news are on the run. Blow the trumpets. Get your representatives on board. Don’t let them slip and slide. This is a pivotal year
Without a system like STARS, the sequence of strategies is something like standards---assessment----curriculum----accountability. A STARS-like system requires that assessment comes out of instruction that is aligned to standards (but not limited by the standards) and the only professionals that can bring assessment out of instruction and teaching are the teachers. Without every teacher having a role in designing assessments for their own classroom, teachers really cannot effectively teach. They need to have a clear notion of what the learning they are after looks like and that means what they are going to assess and how they are going to assess it.
And, without leadership and control over assessment, teachers will never be regarded as professionals. Professionals, in every field including education, are those workers who have control over the "metrics of determining good practice" and control over the "metrics of what determines successful work." Imagine for a moment, auditors, lawyers, medical professionals and even morticians allowing someone other that those that are "trained" in the field to determine what is good practice and to decide what will be used as the measure of the work.