New York State Exposed Education: Are Common Core Tests Graded Fairly?


By: Berkeley Brean

At News10NBC, we hear from parents all the time. They often say they don’t like the Common Core curriculum, especially all the tests attached to it. But if parents thought the tests were bad, wait until you see how they’re graded.

We took a look scoring chart and it’s the focus of tonight’s New York State Exposed Education report.

These tests are supposed to tell us what our students know and, eventually, evaluate our teachers. So you’d think that it would be straight forward; count the number of correct answers and there’s your score, but not with the ninth grade Common Core algebra test.

East Bethany parent Loy Gross says, “We’ve screwed up this measuring stick so badly I don’t think it even matters anymore.”

Gross lives in the Pavilion school district in Genesee County. She has two school-age daughters. She was so upset over the Common Core curriculum and the tests, she pulled her girls out of school and home schools them now.

We showed her the state’s Algebra I scoring chart that shows if a child answered 30 out of 86 questions correctly, it’s 35-percent but the scale score is bumped up to 65-percent.

Brean: “And conversely, a child that gets 79 out of 86 correct, roughly 92%, is getting scaled down.”

Gross: “Is getting scaled down, so what they’re trying to do, they’re trying to fit these kids to a curve.”

Brean: “What do you think about this?”

Gross: “I think it’s ridiculous. When you look at a test, a standardized test is supposed to be a measuring stick. Measuring sticks are only good if they are accurate and they are even and fair.”

So, we took Gross’s concerns and the conversion chart straight to the top: the new state Commissioner of Education.

Brean: “If a child gets 30 out of 86 on that test, it’s technically 34 percent of the answers correct. But the scale score is 65 — bumped up to 65. If a child gets 79 out of 86, it’s technically 91.1 or 92 percent. But their scale score goes down. How do you explain that?”

Elia: “Well, first of all, I’ve been on the job for eight days. It is obviously an issue and we will be examining it.”

According to a document, provided to News10NBC by state education department, the scoring chart “creates the mistaken impression” that low scores “have been rounded up” and high scores “have been rounded down.” But these mistaken impressions are causing the commissioner to call for a change.

Brean: “Do you think it’s fair that a child who scores extremely high on a test actually gets a lower score?”

Elia: “I think all that has to be looked at and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Brean: “And when do you think that will be changed?”

Elia: “Well, as I said.”

Brean: “By the time [students] take the test next spring will this be different?”

Elia: “Oh absolutely, I would imagine.”

Brean: “What do you think when you hear the new head of education say that?”

Gross: “Oh boy. It’s nice to see she’s acknowledging that there’s a problem there. That’s a refreshing change in the New York Commissioner of Education, admitting that there is a problem.”

And if you’re as troubled by this as the new commissioner says she is, contact her office and tell her. The department’s main number is (518) 474-3852. The more calls, the more likely change is going to happen.

 

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