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Insult to Injury: State Reading Tests Can be Passed by Guessing

This little topic is a tough one. Think about it: according to number of different reports, the NY State ELA tests, which drives just so very much of the educational industrial complex, can be passed by guessing. When arts education is being pushed off the table, out of the school day, etc., look to how the curriculum is narrowed due to the dominance of these tests.

The Daily News covered this story last week:

The number of correct answers needed to score a Level 2 to get promoted
has sunk so low that a student can guess on the multiple choice section
and leave the rest of the test blank.

GothamSchools.org also covered this last week:

Independent statistician Frederick Smith examined the way free-response
questions were graded and found that virtually every student received
enough points on that section to then pass the test by guessing
randomly on the multiple-choice questions.

On her blog for the Huffington Post, Diane Ravitch tied these pieces together and took aim at Arne Duncan and the Obama administration.

Another part of the problem is that the states have been quietly but
decisively lowering their expectations and passing students who know
little or nothing.

What isn’t being discussed quite yet, is how it could be that so much money, time, and emphasis is being placed on tests that can be passed just by guessing? With testing, teaching to the test, test prep, supplemental services, and more, all tied together with the only simple measurements readily available to elected officials, well, what happens if the tests are made more difficult?

Would that mean even more resources would be drawn to standardized tests?

Or, perhaps it might be a good teachable moment to think a bit more deeply about what drill and kill is and isn’t providing our students.

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