The New York miracle: Never mind | Arkansas Blog

Monday, August 16, 2010

The New York miracle: Never mind

Posted By on Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 6:34 AM

Looks like New York City's reported progress in closing the achievement gap between black and white students was a product of faulty math.

Many issues are at work here that have relevance everywhere confronting the gap, including Arkansas. But these leap out: The percentage "passing" a test isn't very meaningful if the passing score is low. Similar pass rates between, say, black and white students can be meaningless if most of the black students barely pass and most of the white students substantially exceed the pass rate.

The State Education Department recalibrated the scoring of the tests this year, raising the number of correct answers needed to pass and saying that the previous standards were not accurate measures of what students needed to know at each grade level. When that happened, the passing rates of white and Asian students dropped a little, but those of black and Hispanic students plummeted.

The national test of educational performance given to sample of 4th and 8th graders each year is considered a better measure of progress because of a more rigorous measure of proficiency in the subject matter. There, in New York and most places, including Arkansas, the gap is more evident.

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