Since there was a lot of interest in my posting on Florida’s reaction to the dramatic drop in writing test scores after the tests were revised to include grammar and punctuation standards, I wanted to share an Education Week article that reports similar scenarios emerging around the country.
For example, in Michigan:
The Michigan Merit Exam for high school students (in addition to incorporating the ACT, like Kentucky) has been redesigned this year to show that students who score at or above the “proficient” level on a subject should be able to get at least a B on the freshman-level college exam in that subject at a public university in Michigan.
Cutoff scores for proficiency on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program, or MEAP, given in grades 3-9 each fall, also increased significantly this school year. Students needed to get 65 percent of answers correct to pass, instead of the previous standard of 39 percent.
Based on that new cutoff—not because of a change in the test itself—math proficiency rates statewide on MEAP in all grades dropped by roughly 35 percentage points from 2010 to 2011, when the new standards went into effect, said Joseph Martineau, the director of the office of educational assessment and accountability at the Michigan education department.
In terms of common-core readiness, “We feel like we are a little bit ahead of the game, and that will serve us well when we’re going into this situation, when we’re taking this test that is more rigorous,” Mr. Martineau said.
To help the public understand the impact of the new cutoff scores, the department last November released information illustrating how much MEAP scores in each of the past four years would have dropped if the new standards and scoring had applied retroactively. For example, applying the new cutoff-scores to 2010 results, only 35 percent of 3rd graders would have scored proficient, instead of the 95 percent deemed so currently.
Since I think we often set the “proficiency” bar ridiculously low, I generally applaud state moves to raise standards. But the poor job most states have done explaining the common core makes me nervous about the next phase.