Teacher intervention inflates New York Regents exam scores

by Grace

New York has a long-standing problem with inflated state test scores, including repeated citings of questionable grading practices but no concrete action to address the problem.

In 2003-4, the testing company CTB/McGraw-Hill rescored a sample of Regents exams and found that its scores were generally lower than the scores awarded by the schools, a sign that score inflation was taking place, according to a 2009 audit of Regents scoring by the state comptroller’s office….

… 2004 e-mail in which a state education official cited statistics that showed how teachers statewide appeared to be helping some students over the bar….

And in 2005, a team of the State Education Department’s own experts rescored some June Regents exams and found a “significant tendency for local school districts to award full credit on questions requiring scorer judgment, even when the exam answers were vague, incomplete, inaccurate, or insufficiently detailed,” the comptroller’s audit reported, adding, “These inaccuracies have tended to inflate the academic performance of students and schools.”

Teacher intervention is skewing the normal statistical distribution of grades

… about three times as many students scored exactly at the passing mark than at each one of the scores below it, a result not in keeping with a standard statistical distribution.

A New York State deputy commissioner of education:

“Obviously, teachers look for points to get kids to pass.”

Despite concerns about conflict of interest, teachers still score their own students’ or school’s test.

“We are relying more than ever on state exams — to measure student achievement, to evaluate teacher and principal effectiveness, and to hold schools and districts accountable for their performance,” Merryl H. Tisch, the Regents chancellor, said last month, in support of tightened grading practices. “If we’re going to use the tests in these ways, we need to be absolutely certain that our system is beyond reproach.”

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