Common Core took quite a few arrows into the heart with the release of New York’s Test Scores.   One of the huge questions being asked, is how did the Commissioner John King, know what the drop would be before the tests were given?

We are learning; new reports popping up every hour on how those scores were derived.  To understand the process, you must first be familiar with how regular grading scores are determined.  Most teachers when they score their tests assume that if a student can show that they understand 65% of the material, they can pass the class.  It is reality based.  Here is the material, you know this much, you shall pass because it is above the 65% threshold.  If you have a good class, you can pass all of them.

I hope you are sitting down.  The Pearson tests were taken, then graded.  After that was done,  they were then scored.  They were not scored on whether a person got the answer right or wrong.  They were scored on where the benchmarks should be.  A benchmark is that spot where a score of 1 then becomes a 2, or a score of 2 becomes a 3 and so on.

This is the story of how those bench marks were determined.  Close coordination was done with the College Board SAT’s.   The tests were going to determine which students were… or were not, college and career ready.

So how was the level where one is college-ready determined?.  It was decided to be at that level where there was a 75% chance that a student would receive a B- or above in ELA,  and writing, and a 65% chance that he would receive a C+ in math, in his first college course in those two subjects… Got that?  “That” is college ready.

Once that arbitrary level is set, and it is arbitrary.  Is a B- the same at Harvard as it would be in Michigan State?  is a B- the same if given by Professor X or Professor Y?   Anyone who has ever picked their college classes over the alleged difficulties of certain college professors, certainly knows that this method is very suspect.  But regardless of whether it makes sense, once the threshold is set, one can compare the SAT scores of those students and come up with a correlation.  The correlation  between these grades  and those SAT scores that would determine if one was college ready, happened at the score of 1550.

Now that you know how this score was determined, you can forever dismiss its validity.  That is not being snippy. That is a real assessment of the credibility these scores now have.

From the score of 1550, the next step was to determine how that works downward to the test scores of 8th graders who still have 3 years before they take the SAT. The Breakdown of that score was 560 Reading, 530 Writing, and 540 Math.

To those teachers gathered for the opportunity to cut the scores, the Pearson executives showed them all the data, then told them where the bookmark should be for a 3.  From there the groups determined where to draw the lines for a 1,2,3 and a 4. Then they went and did the 7th grade, then the 6th.  Each grade was determined by the previous one, all of which went back to comparing the 8th Grade to the SAT to be taken 3 years into the future.

They returned to the 8th grade, and re-walked through that process then, that was the cut turned into the commissioner.  Because he had given them the rubric  or guidelines upon which to make their judgment, he already knew ahead of time how the results would turn out.   Does that make sense?

Here is an first person account of what went on inside those cutting rooms…  and here is a humorous account with diagrams, which help a lot in understanding the twists and turns taken to determine this result.

Your test question now. Did you add the three individual scores I posted up above? Had you done so, you would have noticed that they came up to 1630 instead of 1550. It is 1630, significantly higher than the 2011 College Board’s index associated with a B- in college.

The above illustrates how one can manipulate the percentage of college readiness by hopping between the columns and changing the definition of “college ready” to suit oneself. If the State Education Department had increased or decreased the grade and/or the probability, the college readiness indicator would move up or down. In the end, they chose values that are extraordinarily high, producing an index that exceeds the College Board’s index for achieving a B- average.New Yorks score was already higher than the national average. 

From this assessment, comes the criteria that permanently classify a student, that fire a teacher, that close down a school, that wreak havoc in a district.  An assessment that has no basis in reality…

What does have a basis in reality?

Decades of research have shown that the SAT test can be an accurate indicator of IQ. Which is why, test prep classes rarely move the needle on the actual scores themselves.

According to the College Board’s own research, the SAT is not such a great predictor of college grades. The correlation between the SAT and college grades is about .48, which means that its predictive power (r squared) is only 23 percent. High school grades are a better predictor of how students will do in college courses (nearly 30 percent). In addition, other research has found that high school GPA is three to five times more important in predicting college graduation than an SAT or ACT score. Even with all of that known, the State Education Department aligned students 3-8 scores with later performance on the SAT to create cut scores that give the illusion of being on the road to college readiness.

They created this report to justify their methodology.

If you connect the dots and read all of these links you will see that these scores were supposed to be low for a reason, a reason of politics,  They had the data and knew that the results would be scored low, that was their plan.

As they even state here, education did not fall apart; the students are not dumber; the teachers are not derelict; the schools are not failing.  They were just graded on a different curve, that’s all.

It was all done politically to show that large numbers of students did not meet the arbitrarily decided new standard of being college and career ready…

Yes, in even those in Third Grade.,