kitchen table math, the sequel: The race to the bottom

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The race to the bottom

So, you think your fancy suburban school is doing a good job educating your little darling based on those high proficiency numbers your school spits out every year? Think again.

This recent study, Mapping 2005 State Proficiency Standards Onto the NAEP Scales, might give you some reason to question that assumption.

The NAEP sets the achievement bar pretty low; but wait until you see how much lower states have set the proficiency levels of their own tests compared to NAEP.

Here's the comparison for 4th grade reading.

Not surprisingly, no state has set its proficency level above the NAEP Proficient level. That would be political suidice. But, notice how 75% of the states that participate in NAEP have set their own proficiency levels below NAEP's Basic level.

I knew Basic was the new Proficient, but this is ridiculous.

Here's the graph for 4th grade math.

Better than Reading, but not by much.

Can Johnny read and do simple math? Maybe he can and maybe he can't. but, don't think your state test is going to shed any light. It is a race to the bottom.


Catherine Johnson said...

Thank you.

I will be sharing this chart with my district.

Needless to say.

Anonymous said...

"The minds of men were gradually reduced to the same level, the fire of genius was extinguished."

Edward Gibbon
Volume 1 Chapter 2
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Catherine Johnson said...

NY state tests have all kinds of other problems, too.

I mentioned in a couple of other posts the fact that there is virtually no range for a score of 4.

Worse yet, the "reading" test isn't exactly a reading test. There are lots of written responses, and written responses basically can't be scored uniformly across raters.

At the moment, my "advice" to NY parents would be to ask to see your child's test, and look to see what he got dinged on.

We haven't done so yet this fall...another thing to get to.

However, looking at the score and doing the simple math involved, we conclude that he probably scored 100% on multiple choice items, then lost points on written responses.

We need to see his written responses to form an opinion about what he needs work on (that's assuming we agree with the scoring).

Catherine Johnson said...

This is interesting:

The U.S. Department of Education compiles a database that contains all the information provided by the
states in compliance with the regulations of No Child Left Behind. This information was not employed in the estimation procedure but only used for validation purposes. Three states (Maine, New York, and Ohio)
apparently did not report the statewide percent proficient, so it was not possible to carry out the check. The data available to the Department of Education do not contain school-level data required to carry out the methodology.

There's a lot of monkey business going on with NY state tests.

That's the way it feels.....and in this case I'm inclined to trust my instincts.

The NY web site has become even more impossible to navigate. I spent hours trawling the thing for data last year; I can't find anything this year at all.

Good thing I wrote down all the URLs.

Anonymous said...

Let me point out that a higher standard does not imply a better standard. I could, if I wished, define "proficient" such that almost no one could score as proficient. This would be pointless.

We need to see what the states and the NAEP people consider necessary to score as proficient before we can tell if the states are too low or the NAEP is too high.

Observing that one standard is higher than another doesn't get us very far in determining which one (if either) makes sense.


-Mark Roulo

KDeRosa said...

Brookings looked at the NAEP math portion and determined that the test items were typically well below grade level. I think many people would consider the NAEP questions to be less than rigorous, but the the absurdly low levels of students that score proficient or above on the test leads many to believe that the test is difficult.

Catherine Johnson said...

Let me point out that a higher standard does not imply a better standard. I could, if I wished, define "proficient" such that almost no one could score as proficient.


we have this problem with the whole concept of "challenge"

the middle school took a parent survey this fall (I think I posted the survey). one of the few questions it contained about academics asked whether our kids were "challenged."

answer: yes

C. has been highly challenged in math thanks to the middle school

Catherine Johnson said...

I posted a lot of NAEP problems on the old site:

Catherine Johnson said...

oh, hell

I'm going to have to a href myself to death to get those links to work...

Tex said...

New York is definitely experiencing monkey business, as described in the recent Daily News & NY Sun articles.

I didn’t know that parents could see their child’s test. I will ask next week.

I am very interested in seeing how the essay section response was scored. Based on what I saw last year on the practice tests, they can give so many points for the various components in order to bring the score up, yet the essay actually ends up looking quite sub-standard. It’s that rubric effect.

Catherine Johnson said...

NAEP number line

NAEP draw a square

NAEP did you use a calculator?

horse laughs in Singapor

NAEP fraction problem!

NAEP find a pattern

NAEP pan balance


Tex said...

I just looked at a NY 5th grade sample test and this seemed to be the most challenging fraction equation to be solved:
5 3/10 + 4 1/10 + 6 3/10 =

When I compare this to the Kumon equlivalent for fifth grade proficiency (much more advanced), I clearly understand why many (most?) NY students are not ready for algebra in 8th grade.

Who do they think they’re fooling? Hmm . . . Well, actually, most suburban parents I know who are so pleased about rising math scores.

Catherine Johnson said...

You may have to hit refresh a couple of times to see the pages.

Tex said...

The NY web site has become even more impossible to navigate.

I thought it was just me. It’s horrendous!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the links, Catherine.

I've just looked at them.

Oh, my ...

8th grade ...

Oh, my ...

-Mark Roulo

Anonymous said...

The rigor of the cut-score that a state uses to define "proficiency" has no clear, consistent relationship to the overall achievement in the state. For a graphic example see

You'll be surprised at what you see.