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.


NYC Educator said...

Well, to be fair, it's tough to pass an English Regents' Exam, even with a 55, when you speak only Chinese and arrived 6 weeks ago. But if that's what Albany wants, it must be the right thing to do.

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

Can I tell you a secret?
In my school the very teachers who teach the subject which are tested by the state proctor the test and grade it--they are all young and beholden to the skunk of a Principal. Now what do you think will happened with our passing rates on these tests?

Jose said...

personally, all this exam talk is giving me a headache. yikes.

Schoolgal said...

NCLB has been so corrupted because the law itself stinks. It's all about the stats because that's what most pols understand. The higher the stats, the better chance for them to be reelected.
So there are handshakes under the table to make sure those stats look good starting with the principal who does not want to be fired. So make sure everyone passes by training them like dogs.
It doesn't matter if they can even read the test.

My admin is very smart. If a parent comes in with a new admit before a test, and the student is either below level or new to the country, she persuades the parent to wait until after the test to register. This practice doesn't bother me because the teacher's stats benefit too. No one would care if this was a new admit or someone below level. The teacher who got the student the day before the test would still be held accountable.