Thursday, June 11, 2009
The New York State Math Test For The Middle School - When A Level 1 Student Becomes A Level 3 Student
I usually complain about the DOE and to a lesser degree, the UFT in my posts. However, this post is reserved for the ridiculous travesty of the NYS sponsored middle school math test. It is common knowledge that the NYS Education Department has annually "dumbed-down" the State test so that the seventh/eighth grade math test appears equivalent to the third grade math test given years ago. What is even more disturbing is that the State has also changed the matrix so that a child who gets 22 out of 50 multiple choice questions (44%) correct will see his or her grade adjusted to 65%, and be labeled a level 3 student in Math. In my day 44% would qualify you as a student in need of improvement or level 1. I guess Tweed isn't the only organization that plays with the numbers.
Even the Daily News realized how easy the middle school math test has become when it published an article questioning the scores. Furthermore, to help the students even more, many teachers allowed the students to use their calculators in addition to constant coaching the students on what problems will be on the test. Is it any wonder that with level 1 students now labeled as level 3, that Mayor Mike and Chancellor Klein have crowed about improving student scores and the narrowing of the racial achievement gap?
The trend toward easier State tests are not limited to the middle schools. In the high schools the Algebra Regents required a student only answer correctly 17 of the multiple choice questions. Further, the students who knew how to use the calculator can correctly answer 13 of the 17 questions without even understanding the Math. Just guessing the rest of the multiple choice by selecting one number (for example 2) would get you the additional correct answers necessary to pass the Algebra Regents. Unbelievable, but true.
This trend to easier State tests may help the self-esteem of the students but has little effect on real students achievement, reducing remedial courses, and improved college graduation statistics. The State's "smoke & mirrors" testing does not result in real student academic improvement or reduce the racial achievement gap. Only low class sizes, experienced teachers, a stringent student discipline code, and adequate classroom resources are the answer for real student achievement.