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How Many is This?

October 18, 2010
Article in the Chicago Tribune after the Great...

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Admit it.  You don’t know.  You are not proficient in maths or counting.  You are OK, though.  I’m OK.  You’re OK.

Let me ‘splain it to you, Lucy.

The points required to pass the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests is now less than ever.

Back in 2006, it took 36 of 56 points — about 64 percent — to pass the fifth-grade reading test. Now, it’s 31 points, or 55 percent.

Don’t you worry.  Nothing untoward is going down here.  It is merely a statistical issue.  It’s that great concept known as “equating“.

State education officials attribute the declines in points required to pass to routine statistical practices

This has nothing to do with the fact that the percent of students required to pass under the No Child Left Behind Act is going up.

No, it’s statistical factors and changes in the tests themselves.  It all evens out in the end, yo.

The Tribune began reviewing that data and found that today’s students were getting more wrong answers in several test areas compared with five years ago. Even so, passing rates statewide had risen.

The Chicago Tribune is probably just looking to stir up trouble.  That’s what media does, right?

Joyce Zurkowski, the board of education’s chief testing administrator, said she encourages parents not to look at raw scores because the difficulty of questions varies across years.

The state converts raw scores to commonly-used “scale scores,” which determine if a child passes. Scale scores haven’t changed since 2006, but the correct answers required to meet most of them has gone down. That information is not readily available to the public.

You see!  They state will figure it out for you and give you your scale score.  You probably were never proficient when you took state exams and need that kind of help determining if your child knew enough answers to be called proficient today.

You know what is concerning?  We’ve given up on SCIENCE!  I bet it’s too hard (the emphasis via bolded text is a result of my direct interaction on the quote with my WordPress formatting tools).

Children also take science exams, which don’t matter when it comes to judging schools or facing sanctions under the federal law. Those passing requirements have barely budged.

I guess some other nation will be doing the SCIENCE in the future.  Or perhaps, just perhaps, someone knows there won’t be any future.  In that case, we are probably wise to avoid worrying about it.

After further review, it seems that everything is in its place in the Illinois educational system.  I think I probably reacted rashly as a result of sensationalist headlines.  It really takes a quick look around to see how smart our precious little ones are.  They are passing proficiency exams at higher rates than ever!

I am left with only one major question.  If the state officials were educated in the state, do they even know what statistics or equating actually is?

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