Oklahoma City —
That’s a fair analogy. Teachers often use pre-tests to gauge student preparations for exams. Naturally, teachers will concentrate their efforts on students who are just below passing level in hopes of getting them over the goal line.
If teachers concentrate on getting students to a 50 percent pass mark, no one should be surprised on high failure rates if the state puts the pass mark at 70 percent.
And it looks like a lot of kids didn’t pass.
Tulsa World reporter Andrea Eger polled officials at seven area school districts and found that nearly 1,600 students who would have passed under previous standards did not pass under the higher ones.
Meanwhile, a member of the state committee of science teachers that deliberated where to set the “cut score” on the exam, told Tulsa World reporter Kim Archer that the pass level was set “much higher” than the panel recommended.
“Many educators are asking what the reason for subjectively deciding to fail half of all students is, when a committee of teachers looked at the test items objectively and came to a different cut score recommendation,” said committee member Brandi Williams, who works at the University of Oklahoma.
The state education department disputes that there was any dramatic difference between the committee’s recommendations and the final standard set by the state Board of Education.
The new pass score deviated from the median suggestion of committee members by only two or three questions, the department says.
Aggravating the situation is the fact that the state didn’t get final results on the exam back to districts until after the school year began, meaning addressing the needs of students to remediate before taking the exam again is made much more difficult.
We agree with state Superintendent Janet Barresi’s assertion that raising standards will raise performance, but standards should be raised gradually.