Responding to a suspicious spike in the number of students barely passing high school Regents exams, New York State education officials have ordered schools to end the longstanding but controversial practice of rescoring tests that fall just below the passing grade.
I previously posted about "something fishy" going on with New York Regents scores, and now the state has finally decided to end this questionable practice.
In recent years, statistics show, an unusually large number of students have obtained exactly the minimum score needed to pass the exams, which are required for graduation and are often graded by students’ own teachers.
For more than a decade, state regulations required schools to reread science and math Regents exams with scores within five points of the passing grade, which has shifted from 55 to 65 over those years. The purpose was to ensure that no student would fail to graduate because of a scoring mistake.But in practice, schools began to reread barely failing exams in every subject, according to several investigations and anecdotal reports. And at times, the process shifted from a quality review to an all-out effort to find points to help students graduate. Five Regents exams — one each in science, math and English and two in social studies — are required for graduation.State officials have acknowledged unusual scoring patterns, and earlier this month ruled that high schools could not rescore any “open-ended” questions, ones with written or essay answers, in which grading is more subjective. In a message to principals this week, the New York City Department of Education made it clear that rescoring multiple-choice questions was also prohibited.
The order is part of a wider effort by the city and the state to shore up the accuracy of the Regents and other standardized tests as they ask them to carry an ever-growing weight in a data-driven accountability system for schools. In the next several years, teachers will begin to be judged in part on how well students do on the Regents. They are already an important factor in other high-stakes decisions, including annual A-to-F city school report card grades, whether schools are closed for poor performance, and whether principals are praised or fired.Shouldn't the next thing be for New York to end the practice of teachers scoring their own tests, the ones that will be used to judge their performance?
ADDED: Ms. Eyre writes:
I'm pretty sure that every single teacher who has ever scored a Regents exam has been asked to scrub at least once.