Tuesday, September 4

Are test scores really improving?

The chancellor touts rising test scores as proof that his reforms are working just about every chance he gets. We've already seen historian Diane Ravitch tear down these claims. Now, a new report in the Daily News suggests that an increase in average test scores is correlated with an increase in how easy the tests are. That sounds obvious, until you remember that test makers are not supposed to make tests easier or harder from year to year because test results must allow apples-to-apples comparisons of student and school achievement.

The Daily News also conducted its own experiment to show that the 4th-grade math test in 2005, a mayoral election year when students posted record gains, was 7 percent easier than in 2002. The numbers in the Daily News articles are a bit daunting, but as always it's useful to remember that numbers don't always tell the truth and that politics, not just student performance, can factor into test results.

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