Assemblywoman Barbara M. Clark: Raising the Bar Will Benefit Our Childrenís Future

August 5, 2010
On July 28, 2010, the State Education Department (SED) released test scores for the Grade 3-8 tests in English Language Arts and math. The scores on both exams showed a decline in the number of students passing the exams due to an increase in the "cut scores" that were used. "Cut scores" are scoring targets used to measure the skills and knowledge a student has learned compared to what they need to have learned each year to be successful as they move forward in school. The target to pass the test is determined based on the number of correct answers that is student is expected to give to show proficiency or better in math and English Language Arts.

SED made the decision to raise cut-scores based upon recent research showing that past New York State Grade 3-8 assessments did not accurately measure a studentís progress toward being college and career-ready upon high school graduation. The decline in the passing rate for the Grade 3-8 exams occurred as a result of setting scoring targets for proficiency higher, even though the actual scores earned by students this year remained about the same as last year.

In response to the change in cut scores for the Grade 3-8 tests, Assemblymember Barbara M. Clark (D-District 33, Queens) stated the following:

"While the outcome of the decision to change cut scores after the tests were administered may have caught some parents and educators off-guard, we all need to think about the goal of that decision. In the past, the United States used to be at the top of international education rankings, but that is no longer true. We need to move the goal posts forward. Commissioner Steiner and the Board of Regents have a plan to move our students a step higher by raising the bar to ensure that they will graduate from high school prepared with the skills needed to be career and college-ready. Our children are tested in order to find out what they know, and tests are not always perfect. Reevaluating the exams will help improve the curriculum and ensure that our children get what they need, not just to pass the test, but also to be successful throughout their lives. Raising the bar will benefit our childrenís future."