NY State lowers minimum scores for student proficiency and says post-Covid scores are ‘new normal’
New York State is set to lower the level required for students to be classified as ‘proficient’ in math and English tests.
The change, which will affect students in grades three through eight, is a response to the reality that academic standards have slipped since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last year in New York students performed terribly compared with 2019. In Schenectady, not one eighth grader was considered to be proficient in math.
The change will see the proficiency threshold in tests, known as the ‘cut score’, reduced to ensure more students appear to be in good academic form.
‘Yes, there’s learning loss between 2019 and 2022, but in some ways we don’t want to keep going backwards,’ Perie told the Times Union. ‘We’re at this new normal. So for New York we are saying the new baseline is 2022.’
New York State is set to lower the level required for students to be classified as ‘proficient’ in math and English tests
The change, which will affect students in grades three through eight, is a response to the reality that academic standards have slipped since the Covid-19 pandemic
‘They’re changing it because too many kids would not be deemed ‘proficient’ due to the impact of the pandemic on academic learning,’ Jasmine Gripper, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, told DailyMail.com.
Gripper said that not only does shifting the goalposts by lowering thresholds reduce the credibility of the test, it also perpetuates inequalities between children and traps certain kids in underperforming schools.
‘By changing the cut scores we’re shielding wealthy white communities from experiencing the high stakes consequences of state testing that black and brown communities have dealt with forever,’ she said.
‘There will still be kids at the bottom, and the kids who were traditionally at the bottom will remain at the bottom,’ she said.
Gripper argued that the need for changing the bar exposes the flaws in the system and exposes the damage that such testing can do.
‘It really speaks to why state testing is problematic,’ said Gripper. ‘We want testing that drives instruction, instead, teachers are encouraged to teach to the test.’
She also explained that the change would have negative consequences that would not apply to wealthy communities.
Schools that underperform in the state-wide tests could be placed on ‘receivership’ – meaning certain schools could be slated for closures and senior teachers might be incentivized to leave for higher performing schools.
‘Often these evaluations don’t lead to improvement in learning they just lead to labels that are hard to get out of,’ said Gripper.
‘Your home value is determined by how well kids are doing in local schools. Its coddling, it’s that we’ve always done and will always continue to,’ she added.
Across the US, math scores saw their biggest decreases ever due to the pandemic, and reading scores fell to levels not seen since the early 1990s
Many of the woes faced by schools across the country stem from the pandemic and the way lockdowns impacted how children were taught and exacerbated inequities.
‘You think we had rampant inequality before the pandemic, then there was a switch to remote learning which exacerbated inequality, for example, depending on whether you had high speed internet at home you may not be fully able to participate,’ said Gripper.
She says the three academic school years were majorly impacted by the reaction to Covid. The first year was hybrid, the next was almost entirely remote and the third went back to being hybrid. Only now are schools starting to get back on their feet.
Over the summer the committee will do the same for the US history Regents exam – the change will take effect in 2024.
Across the US, math scores saw their biggest decreases ever due to the pandemic, and reading scores fell to levels not seen since the early 1990s, according to National Assessment of Educational Progress – known as the ‘nation’s report card’.
The collected scores of hundreds of thousands of fourth and eighth graders found that nearly four in 10 eighth graders failed to grasp basic math concepts.