Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The ELA Regents Exam: Set Up By The Regents And The NYSED To Fail Both Students And Teachers

There are two good pieces on the brutal scoring chart that the NYSED and Regents are using for the 2013 June ELA Regents exam.

Gotham Schools covered the story yesterday:

Bronx Center for Science and Math Assistant Principal Stephen Seltzer sent a letter to State Education Commissioner John King expressing frustration about the new conversion chart that has made it more difficult for students to pass the English Regents exam.

Seltzer writes that “the rubrics and conversion charts must be aligned and consistent, and both should be made available when teachers are preparing students, not at the time of the exam.”

In the letter, sent Thursday, Seltzer writes that there is a four-point difference in the June 2011 and June 2013 conversion charts. He gives the following example to illustrate his point:

A student who scored a 23 in the multiple-choice and a 7 in the writing received a 79 in 2011 but a 75 in 2013; a student who scored a 21 on the multiple-choice and a 5 on the writing passed with a 65 in 2011 but failed with a 60 in 2013.

The change to the conversion tables was made without corresponding changes in rubrics, which makes it more difficult for teachers to identify where students’ must improve if they have to take the test again, Seltzer writes in the letter.

“A child can receive a higher raw score, meaning they’ve answered more questions correct, but receive a lower actual grade,” said Bronx Center Principal Ed Tom. “You’ve technically done better on the exam, but the score will reflect a lower grade.”


Tom said his school usually has about a 90 percent passing rate on the ELA Regents exams. But this year the school is at a 75 percent passing rate. Tom said he looked at individual student grades and the numbers don’t seem to make sense.

He said a number of students scored well on the multiple choice section, but they struggled to received credit on the short answer and essay sections, which require human grading.

“As we’re looking child by child, we’re noticing that it simply doesn’t make sense that a kid would know so much information to score almost perfectly on the multiple choice and not be able to write a short response or essay to get any points,” Tom said.

My Life As A NYC Teacher posted about the same issue:

As an ELA teacher, I have a stake in the results of these tests - stake through the heart that is.  Since teachers are now going to be evaluated based on student performance on these tests, we can be fired as a result of these results.  For this reason, we English teachers here at Jonathan Levin H.S. in the Bronx just took a look at the scoring charts for the June 2013 English exam and the January 2013 exam.  What we found is interesting indeed.  Here they are.

June 2013 ELA Scoring Chart

January 2013 ELA Scoring Chart

In June 2013 if a student scored 16 on the multiple choice section and 7 on the writing sections, the student failed with a 61.  However if that same student had been lucky enough to take the test last January 2013, scoring 16 on the multiple choice and 7 on the writing would have yielded a passing score of 65.

DOE formula #1: Fewer students passing = more teachers fired.

Going back to Aug. 2012, June 2012 and Jan. 2012, we find the following:

                        Multiple Choice          Writing           Score
Aug. 2012:               16                          7                     65
June 2012                 16                          7                     65
Jan. 2012                  16                          7                     68

In other words, the June 2013 ELA Regents exam is set up to fail more students than in the past.  Coincidentally, New York State has just "adopted" - read: had shoved down our throats - a new evaluation system that the UFT, rather than condemning, seems to be endorsing.  See Chapter 52: Open Season on Teachers.  Under this system, the "value" of a teacher is tied directly to student performance.

DOE formula #2: more failing students =  more fired teachers.

And that really is what all this is about - firing more teachers and being able to use the scores in the news media to "prove" that there are many "failing" schools and "bad" teachers as a reason for why we need more corporate education reformers like charter schools and online schools.

It is not a mistake that the chart has gotten so harsh in the year that accountability has been moved from the school district and the school to the individual teacher via the Cuomo/Tisch/King APPR teacher evaluation system.

Unless the NYSED and the Regents get hammered in the press by parents for the rig job they've pulled with this scoring chart, you can expect the August ELA Regents scoring chart to be as bad.

The fix is in with this scoring chart and the scores are going to plummet accordingly.

Expect King and Tisch to wring their hands in the media about all the bad teachers and failing schools and the need for more reforminess as a result of the Regents scores - even though they're the ones who ensured the scores would plummet by rigging the scoring chart.

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