Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Nationally Normed Test Scores Eleven Percentile Points Lower Than in 1990

Yet ADE Commissioner Ken James is JUBILANT!

The composite score for 7th graders on the nationally normed test (ITBS) just released for this year is 50% - 11 percentile points lower than in 1990, and 7 percentile points below 1984 when the accountability system was set up in Arkansas billions of dollars ago. And the paper reports that Ken James is jubilant!

Scores for 5th grades this year was 58% which is 9 percentile points lower than in 1990 and 4 points lower than in 1984 when the accountability system was set up in Arkansas. Yet Ken James is jubilant, according to newspaper reports, with our test scores.  (I used these two grades because they are the only two grades where there is a complete history of scores.)

7th grade
Nationally Normed
2006 50%
1984 57%
1985 54%
1986 58%
1987 58%
1988 59%
1989 60%
1990 61%

5th grade
Nationally Normed
2006 58%
1984 61%
1985 64%
1986 66%
1987 66%
1988 66%
1989 67%
1990 67%

For a full article on "Why Test Scores Are Lower in Arkansas Now Than in 1984, After Increase of Billions" see this link:  At this link you can also find the scores for nationally normed test since accountability started in Arkansas in a simple chart from 1984 to 2003. You won't find a simple chart like this anywhere in Arkansas but on this website because powers that be don't want people to see the real picture. They just might realize that all their tax money for education is being wasted.

State spending on K-12 education went from a 1.4 billion to 2.8 billion. You know that is actually unbelievable. In six years we have doubled the spending on K-12 education in Arkansas,"  Walter Hussman told the Adequacy committee in 2003 in discussing scores from 1996 to 2001." Now that figure has ballooned to $4 billion.
In regard to the homegrown criterion referenced tests where test scores are soaring in Arkansas but are much, much lower on on the national criterion test, the NAEP, see article at this link, "Real Truth Behind Those Low 4th Grade Benchmark 2005 Test Scores."

Also note carefully this quote by Kelley King, representative from Harcourt Assessments, in answer to a question at a State Board of Education Meeting March 13, 06 about the rigor (difficulty) of the new proposed augmented tests in which the state criterion referenced test and the nationally normed reference test are to be combined. "The rigor (difficulty)  of the test is really set by the customer – by you in what you want. You may set the bar wherever you like to set the bar and we aim to meet that rigor at the point you set it. If we don't achieve that, you tell us to go away and do it again and we keep doing it until we get it the way you want it."  

Did you get that? I don't think she realized what she was telling us. A criterion referenced test can be manipulated until you get the number of students scoring above proficient that you want in order to be jubilant about the scores. That can't happen on a nationally normed test because scores are compared to students in the rest of the nation. But, alas we probably have seen our last legitimate nationally normed test for comparison because we are now in the process of changing to a combined NRT and CRT. Does anyone have any reason now to doubt why we are doing away with the nationally normed tests? See how "Testing System is Corrupted" at this link:  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

They started the tests out at a level that was irrationally difficult, but each year make it a little easier. That way the politicians who hired them look real good.

It is a dog and pony show and most of the math teachers in the state that have been around for a while remember how tough that test was at first and know that it has gotten easier over time.

They could not get away with that on a norm regerenced test.

10:55 AM, July 13, 2006  
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