Re: NY Regent's Exam
- Subject: Re: NY Regent's Exam
- From: Deborah Meier <dmeier@ESSENTIALSCHOOLS.ORG>
- Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1999 09:25:38 -0500
- In-reply-to: <011c01bf293d$57751ce0$ce29accf@oemcomputer>
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
Actually Gerald, (and it's hard to reconstruct/resurrect it now), I thought
the total score did not go down to 41, just the section on computation.
The total scores have been fluctuating--as I read her tables--a few points
up and down each year since 1990, with 1991 the high as I recall. Take a
look at the table she describes as the total battery. So it struck me that
they must have done a lot better in the other sections of the test to have
held their own despite this massive drop in the computation section. I
agree that it's hard to imagine anything a school system could do that
would produce that big a drop in one year. But I was actually more struck
by the fazct that there was no drop. What am I reading wrong?
>I hand't looked at your numbers, but Deb's right: if computation is down,
>and the total battery is stable, then something has to be
>You say in your posting that there was no impact on "concepts and
>Looking at the numbers, let me take a guess: the test was renormed in 1990
>(or earlier) and the renormed test was first used by you in 1991. In that
>year you fell from the 72nd percentile to the 41st. That is a spectacular
>fall and my first reaction is: I don't believe it.
>If the test were re-normed, though it could happen. If other districts in
>the norming sample have been emphasizing computation and you haven't you
>will fall in comparison even if your kids are doing just as well as they
>used to in terms of the percent of items they get right. If other districts
>had been emphasizing computation, then kids in the national sample who score
>at the 50th percentile would have to have a raw score higher than
>This makes your kids look worse, relatively speaking.
>If this is not the reason, then something else peculiar happened. A state
>does not fall 31 percentile ranks in a given year. The scores after 1991
>also look somewhat like those from a new test: ranks bounce back up to the
>50th percentile the next year and there is no further gain or decline.
>The picture you paint is of an ever compounding disaster, but scores have
>not changed much since 1991 and what change there is is upward.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Deborah Meier <dmeier@ESSENTIALSCHOOLS.ORG>
>Sent: Saturday, November 06, 1999 11:29 PM
>Subject: Re: NY Regent's Exam
>> Nancy, in an effort to understand your fury I need more information.
>> section of the test in which the scores went way down was computation:
>> knowing quickly the right answers to basic computational information, in
>> what is sometimes called a rote fashion. (Multiplications tables, etc)
>> I reading your information right? Is that what you think the portfolio
>> system did? And I m assuming that you noticed this about your own kids,
>> quite aside from the test scores. I accept that premise.
>> But what puzzles me is that the total battery stayed about the
>> same--fluctuating from year to year. That's what the tables seem to show.
>> I fact they show a steady rise, except for a one-year high in 1991. If
>> that is accurate it suggests that something(s) must have gone up. What
>> was that? Maybe the portfolios were helpful in improving student
>> achievement even on this standardized instrument, except for basic "rote"
>> computation (which is not the entire field of math and does not require
>> portfolio presentations to demonstrate.).
>> Maybe it suggests that Vt. needed to respond to that one issue. The
>> dilemma it appears might then not be portfolios, but a disagreement about
>> the importance of a strong computational focus by 6th grade. I don't get
>> how all this connects to portfolios vs traditional multiple choice normed
>> tests. One can do both. ( At Mission Hill we give a test on rote
>> computation in 4th grade, for example and insist that kids master it by
>> 5th. But we're basically a portfolio/performance based school, and worry
>> even more about whether kids have a strong "number sense" which we think
>> best demonstraated in portfolio-like ways.)
>> To summarize: your argument appears to be that while the CAT scores in
>> Vt., based strictly on what you've shown us, went up after 1991--the
>> were not learning basic coputational skills. I'm not yet trying to argue
>> with you, but truly trying to be sure I'm reading the information you
>> offered us accurately.
>> It's wonderful to be able to have a conversation with someone who is as
>> directly knowledgeable about this as you are--even if there seems to be a
>> passionate disagreement between us! I'll learn something. But I don't
>> yet know if there is or need be any disagreement , or at least not one
>> quite matches the tone of your letter. But maybe I'm still
>> misunderstanding this. . Thanks. Deborah
>> >In a message dated 11/6/99 6:07:00 PM Eastern Standard Time,
>> >gbracey@EROLS.COM writes:
>> ><< The portfolio system in
>> > Vermont has been derided in some quarters because different teachers
>> > different marks (something that has been noted at least since the Starch
>> > Elliot studies of 1912). >>
>> >The Vermont portfolio system not only was found ineffective as a
>> >measure, it has been extremely expensive to the citizens of this tiny
>> >who are already overtaxed. It's really sad to see our farm land
>> >due to our farmers inability to keep up with soaring educational costs
>> >taxes. Further, since portfolios are used conjointly as an "assessment"
>> >"instructional tool," its impact on the mathematical achievement level of
>> >children has and continues to be negative and harmful!!
>> >The first and most outspoken opponent of portfolios was/is a very brave
>> >native Vermont Language Arts teacher named Peter Berger. But of course
>> >who didn't have the deep pockets or the political clout to stop this
>> >initiative foisted on the state he grew up in failed in his attempts to
>> >expose the fallacy.
>> >Relative to our town's "pioneering effort" in the mathematics portfolios
>> >the state of Vermont, here's what happened to our math scores. We started
>> >pioneering math portfolios for the state of Vermont in 1990. The
>> >Achievement Test (CAT) is given in the fall of each year. Therefore, 1991
>> >scores are reflective of what took place in 1990. Here's what happened as
>> >measured by the CAT score summaries for sixth graders. The CAT is a norm
>> >referenced test:
>> >Math Computation
>> >(national percentile):
>> >1989: 67%
>> >1990: 72%
>> >1991: 41%
>> >1992: 50%
>> >1993: 49%
>> >1994: 44%
>> >1995: 49%
>> >1996: 49%
>> >Math Computation
>> >(percent scoring in the lowest quartile; <25 percentile)
>> >1989: 9%
>> >1990: (missing)
>> >1991: 25%
>> >1992: 24%
>> >1993: 31%
>> >1994: 27%
>> >1995: 28%
>> >1996: 28%
>> >Total Battery
>> >(national percentile):
>> >1989: 77%
>> >1990: 85%
>> >1991: 75%
>> >1992: 82%
>> >1993: 81%
>> >1994: 76%
>> >1995: 78%
>> >1996: 79%
>> >Difference Between Total Battery and
>> >Math Computation:
>> >1989: -10%
>> >1990: -13%
>> >1991: -34%
>> >1992: -32%
>> >1993: -32%
>> >1994: -32%
>> >1995: -29%
>> >1996: -30%
>> >There was no significant impact in the category of "Math Consepts &
>> >Some of you will probably have the comeback of: "Those CAT test scores
>> >meaningless" What I say to you is that I'm the mother of three children
>> >attended the school during the pioneering years and payed taxes to fund
>> >porfolios and those scores "mean" something to me! They "mean" something
>> >teacher Peter Berger too! They mean something to my friends and neighbors
>> >this town whose children were affected. They "mean" something to other
>> >parents, teachers, and taxpayers who know the fallacy of the reform. I
>> >the negative impact and I'm not alone. I experience it every day with my
>> >youngest as they struggle to make up for classroom time lost on
>> >mathematics portfolios.
>> >All your theorizing and one-up-manship is what is truly "meanigless."
>> >in it until the cows come home for all I care. But. . . when what you're
>> >pushing in the tiny state of Vermont starts to impact negatively on my
>> >children, my friends children, and my relatives children, and my
>> >children we will not tolerate it! You can blow all the smoke you want
>> >"portfolios" and their impact on the tiny state of Vermont but how do you
>> >know. You don't even live here! What do you care! Those of us in this
>> >who have "real life children" who were and continue to be harmed through
>> >being subjected to this half-baked costly initiative know the truth.
>> >Take your egos, your theories, your half-baked reforms and go home. We
>> >doing just fine years ago before we were targeted as a perfect "test
>> >for half-baked educational theories brought to us by people who could
>> >less about the citizens of Vermont and our kids.
>> >Nancy Hall
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