Thursday, February 12, 2015

More on NY Regents scaled scoring

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The highest value (perfect score) is assigned 100, and the lowest possible is assigned 0. Passing is assigned 65 and passing with distinction is assigned 85. All values can then be converted to the scale using an algebraic transformation:scale score = (a)*(x**3) + (b)*(x**2) + (c)*(x) + d.In this equation, the value of x in each of four equations represents perfect scoring, lowest possible scoring, just passing, or just passing with distinction, respectively. The coefficients can be determined because each equation is set equal to the four known scale values: 0, 65, 85, and 100. These values yield four simultaneous equations. Thereafter, every logarithmic value, which, through equating has the exact same meaning in performance from test form to test form, can be assigned a scale value from 0 to 100 in which 65 is passing. In this way, a logarithmic scale having meaning with reference to achievement of State Learning Standards can be converted to a scale that ranges from 0 to 100 and carries the same meaning with reference to achieving State Learning Standards.

The above is a direct quite from an article written by Gerald E. DeMauro entitled How the Scale Scores Are Calculated for New York State Regents Examinations(See entire article here). The excerpt does not seem too clear. What non-math people thought about I have no idea. Part of me wants to claim that Mr. DeMauro knew what he was writing about, but the exposition of his knowledge seemed quite cloudy. This article, as posted in 2002, helped feed my skepticism as to what was actually going to happen in New York State.

The Office of State Assessment has a page set up to describe how Regents exams are scored. This page, from 2009, says in its first two paragraphs
Test scoring is a complex process that derives student scores from the number of questions answered correctly on a test, the level of difficulty of the questions and the skills each question measures.  The final score on most Regents examinations is not a simple percentage or number of correct answers.  Nor is it the same as the raw score – the total number of points a student achieves on a test.

The New York State Education Department develops Regents examinations in accordance with the procedures for test development that are recognized by the American Education Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Testing.  All major test developers, including SAT, NAEP, and AP, use these procedures and insist that all tests must be scaled as described above.
The last two words here surprised me. I searched and searched for what had been "described above" but could not find what was being referenced.

In my research on these issues, I came across an article from May 2014 by Gary Stern at The Journal News that stated
The state Education Department plans to set the scoring so that roughly the same percentage of students will pass the tests as in the past.
"We want to have stability in terms of passing rates," said Ken Wagner, deputy state education commissioner.

With this in mind, I realized I was completely befuddled by the direction NYSED was taking. I am still trying to square up the notion of standards-based testing, whereby all those who meet the standards have succeeded, and the acknowledged politico-economic push to get students through high school by age 18. To have two distinctly different goals such as these is mind-numbing, but to put Mr. Wagner's comments into the mix makes it nearly incomprehensible.

To give credence to Mr. Wagner's words we have the following slide from a June 2014 PowerPoint (find it all here)

Here we have information indicating that no matter how much better or worse performance on exams is, the scaling will get the passing results to conform to 2005 levels. It could seem that  the state is  telling everybody not to spend too much time with the weaker students, as it will not pay off.

Do not jump to conclusions without reading Determining “cut scores” as New York students take the first Common Core high school exams at Education by the Numbers thanks to The Hechinger Report.

More of my rambling later..

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