June 1, 2009
Scores from the state math tests that students in grades 3-8 took earlier this spring will be released later this morning. You can watch the State Education Department’s 11 a.m. presentation in Albany from your computer.
As always, the scores are sure to be scoured for evidence of whether Mayor Bloomberg’s education reforms have resulted in achievement gains. A source told the Post that scores are up significantly, with the proportion of students testing as proficient or better in math jumping as much as 15 percentage points at some schools. Anecdotally, I’ve heard from a teacher who said the scores at her school are impressively high. (Schools have had the scores, on embargo, since late last week.)
But the key is not the percentage point gain; it’s what happened to scale scores, which are used to compare different tests across grades and years. It is possible for the proportion of students scoring as proficient to jump by a wide margin while at the same time scale scores, which are considered the most statistically useful way to evaluate test score gains, barely budge. (Aaron Pallas has written about this on GothamSchools.)
For example, reading test scores have jumped by 18 percentage points between 2006 and this year, but the scale scores for the same students actually fell by two points over the same period, I reported last month when the state reading test scores were released. But the scale scores for black and Hispanic students did jump by 16 points over the three years, compared to 6 points for white students.