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States Not All Lowering AYP Standards

State passing rates on AYP (the percentage of schools that meet state testing requirements and thus federal ones) varies widely, as you can see from the great chart to the right (courtesy of Stateline.org).

But, of course, this doesn't mean that the students in high percentage states are smarter than the rest, or that their schools are better. It probably just means that their tests are easier, or that the cutoff score is lower.

Some states like North Carolina have low AYP pass rates AND their state test cutoffs seem low, according to Pauline Vu's Stateline story. In NC, students had to answer correctly fewer than half the questions to pass [the middle school algebra test]. In some grades, they can flub two-thirds of the questions and still be marked “proficient.”

But not all states have lowered their requirements or rigor, Vu points out. There are lots of different things going on. Check it out: Where All the Children Are Above Average

PS -- Remember just a few years ago when it was hard to get state passing rates for AYP and folks didn't want state-by-state comparisons because they were thought to be misleading? Someone tried to retrieve a report listing state rates, but it lived on.

UPDATE: Sherman Dorn thinks Vu and I don't understand that it's rigor, as well as cutoffs, that affect state pass rates, and that we don't deserve a cookie. But he's wrong. Bad Dorn.

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So because rigor isn't easily measurable, it is OK to ignore it? Or is it that we trust the testing companies should? hmmmm? Either way leads to the dark side.

bob -- thanks for your comment. i'm not against rigor, or for testing companies, or the dark side for that matter, but i'm not sure i understand your comment entirely. -- alexander

So which result do you think matches up for Massachusetts; its highest in the nation NAEP scores, or its bottom-20% for making AYP? And exactly how does that correlate with the number of test questions answered correctly on the MCAS tests at each grade level?

When I was in college, our physics exams were graded with a C around 50%, and anything over 85% considered as A+ work. That didn't mean the tests weren't rigorous.

By AYP standards, 98% of Mass school-subgroup pairs failed to hit "100%" proficient last year. It would be easier for Massachusetts' schools to meet a goal of beating Singapore's math scores by 2014 than hitting "100% proficient for all subgroups in all schools. Our AYP goal is for every subgroup in every school to match the average scores at the best suburban schools within eight years.

Our outgoing ed commissioner probably would not care if 98% of our schools fail to make AYP, because he's stated that he would like management of all schools to be outsourced, and that where our sanctions regulations are aiming. Personally, I'd prefer to have that sort of restructuring based on both a political consensus that it's a better model than town-run schools as well as extensive research that it produces education outcomes.

thanks for the comment, massparent -- and good to learn about your blog. if i had to do it, i'd go for low AYP pass rates and high NAEP scores -- though ideally you'd have both. not so sure about the school controll stuff, but maybe others have clear opinions on this.

thanks again

Has there been any discussion about the big testing companies also owning the test prep companies? Is it my imagination or would that be a conflict of interest?

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.