Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Good Old Days
Many years ago people realized that children were graduating from NYS schools with a very limited education. The RCTs were introduced in the 70's. Kids had to pass these tests if they could not pass a regents to graduate. These tests measured minimum competency.
The first year they were given I remember being recruited to help mark the writing section. I, along with a bunch of other math teachers complained that English was not our field. We were told to mark , so we did. We did not feel comfortable passing papers where the spelling and grammatical mistakes occurred so often that the ideas in the composition or the letters could not be understood. All our failing grades were overridden by the English chairman. The only good that came out of this is that we were never asked to mark these papers again.
The math exam was a little harder to get passing grades on. The math was either right or wrong. Since the entire test was short answer or multiple choice, there were no gray areas. Even though we had lots failures, people complained this test was too easy also.
To keep improving standards, RCTs were introduced in social studies and science. Again, the state decided that these exams were not good enough. Minimum competency was not competent enough.
Today everyone must pass a certain number of regents exams to graduate. First, the passing grade was 55, but scheduled to change to 65. Since too many kids were still failing, the 65 grade for passing was postponed. Kids can still get their diplomas with 55. Even 55 was too high a grade for some. The Board of Regents could not be wrong about this requirement so the standard needed to pass has been lowered and lowered and lowered. Now, almost everyone passes. Too bad passing doesn't mean anything.
To summarize--state exams were instituted to raise standards. The state exams did not measure a high enough level so they were done away with and everyone was required to pass Regents exams. The regents exams were too hard so the bar to pass the exam was lowered. Kids are now getting regents diplomas and know less than their counterparts with RCT diplomas. It is great to know that NO CHILD IS BEING LEFT BEHIND.