Re: Is "Grade Level" A Load of Hooey?
On Apr 7, 2009, at 12:20 PM, gerald bracey wrote:
Peter is right that "grade level" has traditionally been defined
as the score of the average child in a given grade on a norm-
(NRT). It is thus a floating standard and might be great or
virtually no one uses NRT's anymore so that def. is not available.
and Spellings changed the word "proficiency" in NCLB to "grade level"
thereby giving us 50 definitions of grade level--grade level is
state defines as proficient--and since everyone must be proficient
it is attainable by all (theoretically).
Jerry - I've read in different places that criterion-referenced
tests/ standards-based tests are just NRT's in sheep's clothing. Any
validity to that claim? With NRT's, my understanding is the results
are distributed along a normalized curve. So there's the the usual
distribution of scores, i.e, half above and half below grade level.
But then the cut score is decided upon after the results of the tests
come in. So you have, on the one hand, a methodology in the creation
of the tests that assures a normalized distribution, but then a
little statistical trickery after the fact that assures a higher
passing rate above the cut score. I'd appreciate getting some clarity
on this. It's still muddy to me.
On the other hand, given some of the scenarios Linda Perlstein
Tested: One American School Struggles to Make the Grade, it is hard
that these kids are on a "continuum" of any kind. They not only
the words associated with the images they're expected to respond to in
Dibels, many don't have a clue about what reading involves. I
that "they are where they are" but it's not as simple as the
concept of a
continuum would make it seem. "Managing a class means making a
stream of decisions about which misbehaviors to address and which
(p. 111). If you read her chapter where she goes to a nearby
(she spent over a year in the poor one), you come away thinking
worlds", not continuum.
Well, it's still where they are, isn't it? I've read Perlstein's book
and was struck by what the school did to the kids that were "behind."
In reading this book, I was saddened, enraged, and disgusted. After
being exposed to a constant regimen of "BCR's" (brief constructed
responses), decoding drills, and endless test prep, it would be
surprising if these kids ever wanted to read anything ever again.
Thus my point: let's not employ punitive pedagogy that makes the
situation even worse than it already is.
I don't think there is a press that "ALL kids have to be equally
reading." Even NCLB doesn't require that.
NCLB requires that all kids be proficient/at grade level by 2014.
It is hard to know what reading
level is sufficient to cope with the real world because reading is
way adults gather the information they need. That's probably why
don't score high in adult literacy tests (which have many flaws) don't
report that their reading level causes them real life
the average black 12th grader scored 267 in 2005 compared to 293
That's about a 2 1/2 year difference as NAEP goes and slightly
271 of white 8th graders. It's hard to think of that as "slightly
I don't get it. You usually bash NAEP data, Jerry. But now you're
using NAEP data uncritically to make a point? Even so, what do we do
about this? If these kids really are "behind," then what actions do
we take to help them? Do we take away art and music and recess and
load them up on phonics drills and worksheets? Or do we do something
else? Of course, the "something else" is open for debate. But what
we're doing now is not working. Period.
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