New York state tests contained several errors when given to third- through eighth-graders April 17 to 19 and 25 to 27.
continued Tompkins noted that the questions that were pulled were not what he called “operational items” – they were not in line with the state’s new Common Core standards and were not going to be used for assessment purposes anyway.
“They were field test items [questions upon which future tests will be built] or normative items, which basically means they’re used to compare us to other states,” Tompkins said.
In a release after the pineapple debacle, State Ed Commissioner John King acknowledged that the tests do have to be tighter in order to better measure student growth.
“The accuracy and efficacy of our state assessments are crucial to our reform efforts and measuring student academic growth,” King said. “We will, as always, review and analyze all questions on every assessment we administer. “
But the average scores districts receive on these exams do more than measure academic growth. They also determine which districts are named Districts in Need of Improvement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act; they determine which districts are eligible for competitive grants under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan, developed as part of his 2011-12 budget; and they make up part of the formula determining the capability of the state’s teachers and principals under the agreement reached by State Ed, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and the Board of Regents this past February.
Fortunately, the errors on the exam, because they won’t count against scoring, also won’t count against these measures, Tompkins said.
But the fact that there were such glaring errors on the exam has teachers and administrators questioning the state’s reliance on the exams for such important decisions.
“Yes, tests tell you something,” said Liverpool Superintendent Dr. Richard Johns. “But they use it for such a wide array of things and put so much importance on it that the validity is always in question. You can’t make a test that tight.”