Monday, July 28, 2008

N.Y. Algebra Test still being reviewed

Evidently the recent results of the Regents new integrated algebra test is causing some worry and it seems people are unsure what to do about the results.

The test was administered in June of this year and was apparently so difficult that a student could get a raw score of only 30 and pass. That's 30 out of 87 points! (I wonder if Medical Schools do that!)

We have to understand the difference in the "scaled score" and the "raw score". Questions on the test are weighted. The N.Y. state Education Department uses a "scale score", which gives students more credit for answering certain harder questions.

When a raw scale is used, there is a low cut off level for passing which indicates the test is more difficult than if there was a high cut off level, which would require more and easier questions to be answered correctly.

According to a report in "The Buffalo News: World and Nation", Jonathan Burman of the state Education Department said the following:

"It takes 30 raw score points out of 87 to get a passing score of 65. Some have said this is too low. But you will find that it was a challenging test and the questions that must be answered are appropriate. Many students still did not pass at that level."
The test is mostly taken by ninth graders.

Of interest is that Westminster Charter School in Buffalo teaches integrated algebra to eighth graders. According to their teacher, Patricia Frey, all 14 of her average to slightly above average students passed the test. She stated that she "did not think the test was all that daunting for pupils who are going to be proceeding to geometry the following semester."


The statewide failure rate has not been calculated. The test is still being reviewed.

Is anyone out there knowledgeable about this and able to shed further light on what is happening?

Read the whole article in "The Buffalo News: World and Nation" here.


Think about this -- 30 out of 87 questions is passing, but that's OK because they were hard questions. OK, 30 out of 87 is 34%-35% and that is a score of 65 (because the questions were hard). You see, they can make the questions easier and then raise the number of problems a student must answer. Would that make us feel better? Hmmmm.

I have an idea -- How about teaching the students Algebra and how about starting by spending time in the lower grades teaching them math algorithms and requiring some practice, practice, practice.

Good for you, you 8th graders at Westminster Charter School.

As I have said before, you can make a test say anything you want: Just change the way it is scored by changing the weight of certain questions.