New York State has announced a plan to lower the minimum scores required for students in grades three through eight to be considered ‘proficient’ in math and English tests.
The move is a response to the negative impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on academic performance, which led to a severe drop in students’ scores.
In 2020, not one eighth graders in Schenectady was considered to be proficient in math.
The change will lower the proficiency threshold, also known as the ‘cut score’, to ensure that more students appear to be in good academic form.
However, some argue that lowering the standards will undermine the credibility of the test and perpetuate inequalities between children, especially in underperforming schools.
Jasmine Gripper, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, believes that changing the cut scores shields wealthy white communities from the high-stakes consequences of state testing that black and brown communities have dealt with for years.
She argues that the need for changing the bar exposes the flaws in the system and exposes the damage that such testing can do.
Moreover, the change could have negative consequences that would not apply to wealthy communities, as schools that underperform in state-wide tests could be placed on ‘receivership,’ meaning certain schools could be slated for closures and senior teachers might be incentivized to leave for higher-performing schools.
The pandemic and the way lockdowns impacted how children were taught have exacerbated the woes faced by schools across the country.
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, math scores saw their biggest decreases ever due to the pandemic, and reading scores fell to levels not seen since the early 1990s.
Nearly four in 10 eighth graders failed to grasp basic math concepts.
In conclusion, the decision to lower the minimum scores required for students to be classified as ‘proficient’ in math and English tests in New York State is a response to the severe drop in academic performance due to the pandemic. However, the move could perpetuate inequalities and undermine the credibility of the test.
It exposes the flaws in the system and highlights the damage that such testing can do.»Lowering the Bar: New York State’s Plan to Increase Student Proficiency Scores Amidst Pandemic Challenges«