Failing grades for State report cards

This action makes some sense since the State Education Department, as you recall, with no warning whatsoever, raised the passing cut scores last June. Also, as the result of the cut score change, SED predicted that 45 percent of New York State schools might not have made Adequate Yearly Progress in English Language Arts this year and 37 percent would not have made Adequate Yearly Progress in math. Try to explain to a ten-year-old how he went from high passing scores the year before, but just barely passed this next year, though his scores were the same. What I find challenging is that the State Education Department plans to increase dramatically the passing targets in both English Language Arts and math for 2011-2012, from 122 to 148 for the former, and 137 to 158 for the latter.

I continue to be puzzled by all this. The New York State Education Department, by its action, has apparently slowed down the number of schools that will not achieve Adequate Yearly Progress for 2010-2011, thus reducing the number of schools Duncan predicted would not make AYP. But a year later, the passing targets will jump dramatically. Meanwhile, our lawmakers in Washington seem fixated on maintaining the four subgroups as they consider reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Law. It's a mess.

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