the blog of Carol Burris

The ridiculous cut scores of the 3-8 NY Common Core tests and what we should do about them

For those of you who read my blogs in Valerie Strauss’ Answersheet, you know that for some time I have been ranting about the SAT scores that John King used to help set the cut score for proficiency on the Common Core tests.

In order to guide the setting of the cut scores, King  commissioned a report  to determine “college readiness” (Thank you to Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters for finding it.)  He was not satisfied with the College Board’s established readiness score of 1550. So he asked the College Board to do another study and they were happy to oblige.

According to that report,  there is a 75% probability of getting a B- in a college math course as long as you score a 710.  

Well, bless my sleeveless pineapple!  Only 6% of college bound seniors get that score!  Anyone with a modicum of commonsense would have immediately questioned the study, but SED did not, instead they settled for a 60% probability of getting a C- which corresponds, according to their study, with 540 on the SAT mathematics section.  They did, however, take the 75% probability scores for writing and reading, because they were more reasonable numbers.

Pick a number, any number.

In the end, the State Education Department “chose” the values 560 for reading, 530 for writing and 540 for math and called them “college-ready indicators.”  That is a composite score of a 1630, (far higher than the 1550 which the College Board uses).

Those scores were used to “inform” the cut score setting committee.  As the committee went through questions, according to member Dr. Baldassarre-Hopkins , the SED helpers said,  “If you put your bookmark on page X for level 3, it would be aligned with these data,” thus nudging the cut score to where they wanted it to be.

Let me tell you a little bit about a score of 1630–only 32% of all SAT test takers reach it.  John King predicted a 30% passing rate, and in the end, the passing rate was 31%. Why, those kids did not even need to show up for the test.

Here is some more important information about a score of 1630.  It is above the average score of students whose parents earn between $160,000-$ 200,000 a year.  It is above the average score of students whose parents have a Bachelors degree.

Now I am certain that if we correlated SAT scores with family income we could surely come up with as pretty a logistic regression probability curve as they got for their study of Regents scores and CUNY grades that gave SED its ‘aspirational measures’.  And it would certainly be as lovely (and similar) to the curve of the New York State study to find those college readiness SAT scores.

So here is my plan.  I think all of the billionaires like Bill Gates and Merryl Tisch who are very worried about college readiness should give their millions to make sure that every public school student’s family has at least $160,000 income.  Wouldn’t that be a better investment than putting their money into big old databases which no one wants, or into funding Research Fellows to make infomercials and put stuff up on the Engage NY website?  And to supplement it, they could take all of the millions that they got from Race to the Top and all of the millions that schools have to pay in enact all of these reforms. Add to that all of the taxpayer dollars yet to be spent buying all of the computers and bandwidth we will need for PARCC tests.

Why not?  It is as reasonable as the present plan. In the end, the taxpayers would come out ahead, and so would the kids.

6 Responses to “The ridiculous cut scores of the 3-8 NY Common Core tests and what we should do about them”

  1. another concerned parent

    Your suggestion in the closing paragraph is perfect. If these billionaires spent lessbof their tax sheltering foundations’ funding social engineering and focusing on charitable acts, well just imagine the good they could do. The more I learn about “foundations, and their inordinate influence of social policy, the sadder/madder I become.

  2. Gus w

    Burris cited evidence and research to show how King wasted taxpayer dollars and refused to budge after sustained protests. When King smeared the protesters as misinformed, he appropriated more taxpayer money to fund pro-CC propaganda.

    Then, the protests increased, along with a statewide no confidence vote for him. His response is to triple down, telling the press that “many” teachers are embracing the CC.

    So now we need bigger, wider protests. The runaway commissioner just doesn’t think democracy matters and he might be right, if teachers can’t get parents and taxpayers to understand the rip off of education budgets, Cuomo and King will win.

  3. How Bill Gates and fellow billionaires can actually help public education

    […] In a piece she wrote about how the ridiculous way the cut scores for New York’s Common Core-aligned tests were determined, she explains that authorities decided to use SAT scores that New York Education Commissioner John King used to help set the cut score for proficiency on the Common Core tests. After deconstructing the nonsense surrounding the cut scores, she says this: […]


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