Thanks but No Thanks, Dept.


Scores on the Common Core-aligned tests in NY state actually went up this year. But some things have to be taken into account:

“This year, for example, students had more time to answer fewer test questions, so the modest gains may simply reflect that students had an easier time taking the exams, not that they learned more.”

Not to mention that perhaps even the cut-scores were lowered, though I have no evidence of that. (Parenthetical digression: I once received criticism that I didn’t know anything about statistics or percentiles if I thought that lowering the cut scores meant anything. For example, if getting 30% of the questions right puts you in the 80th percentile, then a cut score based on percentiles is appropriate. Somehow I don’t agree, but then again, my critiquer is correct; I’m not a statistician, so don’t listen to me!)

Because of the confusion with what test scores actually mean, there’s this solution being offered:

“Leaders here have become accustomed to navigating the ever-changing targets that often come with the state accountability system, and for many of those schools that come with consequences, including possibly facing an outside takeover. Now, rather than focus on the tests, they are turning their attention to classroom practices.

“If the focus on improving classroom instruction is clear and intentional, students will thrive,” said Will Keresztes, chief of intergovernmental affairs, planning, and community engagement for the Buffalo district. “Speculating on testing changes is not a strategy for improving student outcomes.” ”

I can only imagine what they feel are appropriate classroom practices. Let’s stick with the test scores, flawed as they may be, and let the teachers work around the many hurdles placed in their way.


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