Accountability New York Testing

Leonie Haimson: Are We Entering a New Era of Test Score Inflation in New York?

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Leonie Haimsom, founder of Class Size Matters and board member of the Network for Public Education and New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), warns that the test scores released by New York are not to be trusted. She argues that “we are entering a new era of mass delusion and test score inflation- including cut score manipulation.”

She offers evidence for her assertions.

State Commissioner MaryEllen Elia released the scores and advised readers not to compare the Scores of 2016 to earlier years, then immediately made the very comparisons she cautioned against. Chancellor Farina celebrated the astonishing growth in the city’s ELA scores.

But Haimson takes a close look and concludes that state officials are manipulating the data. She reminds readers that state scores went up at a dizzying pace from 2002-2009, leading Mayor Bloomberg to boast about a New York City “miracle.” But in 2010, after an independent investigation, the state admitted that the tests had become easier, the passing mark had been lowered, and the dramatic gains had been a hoax. Once the scores were corrected, the gains of the Bloomberg-Klein era disappeared.

Something similar is happening now, write Haimson.

“There are four ways to artificially boost results on exams:

1. Make the tests shorter

2. Allow more time to take them

3. Make the questions easier

4. Change the cut scores and/or translation from raw scores to performance levels.

“It appears that the state made at least three out of the four changes listed above. We won’t know if the questions were harder or easier until the state releases the P-values and provides other technical details.”

These are serious charges. It is now the responsibility of Comissioner Elia, the Board of Regents, and the State Education Department to demonstrate the validity and integrity of the tests.

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