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February 8, 2016
Why New York’s switch to untimed tests might not matter (and why teachers aren’t so sure)
A handful of states have administered untimed tests for over a decade. What can New York learn?
September 13, 2013
After two companies botch test scoring, city to recoup money
The city canceled a contract with one testing vendor and won't get charged by another after the companies bungled exam scoring in separate incidents earlier this year, the education department announced today. Officials announced this afternoon that they are canceling a $9.7 million contract after the vendor, CTB/McGraw-Hill, botched a new electronic grading process for the city's Regents exams, causing confusion for tens of thousands of students who needed scores to graduate or move onto the next grade. The city will also recoup $2.1 million from Pearson for major errors during its administration of a gifted exam. The news comes less than three months after officials sought to downplay the issues, which included a series of technical glitches that resulted from logistical problems, faulty software and low school bandwidth. Spokeswoman Erin Hughes said the department was still negotiating how much money it would recoup from the contract, which was in its second year of a three-year deal. As a result of the cancellation, she said, the city planned to move back to paper-and-pencil scoring in 2014.
August 12, 2013
Chelsea students to retake lost Regents exams
Among the city students to take the state’s English Regents exams on Tuesday are 75 students at Chelsea Career and Technical High School whose original…
July 24, 2013
King won't change cut score advice for new Common Core tests
Contrasting his administration to previous ones, which have been criticized for inflating state test scores, State Education Commissioner John King agreed to accept proficiency bars recommended by a committee of educators with no revisions, as captured in this simple slide. Commissioner John King pledged this week to accept the "cut scores" recommended to him by a committee of educators, one of the final steps remaining before the state releases results from the state tests. Cut scores determine the number of right answers students need on state English and math tests to be deemed proficient in the subjects. The announcement at this month's Board of Regents meeting came in the middle of a detailed 46-page slideshow presentation outlining how the "cut score" recommendations were made. But while the other slides were packed with numbers, graphs, and paragraphs, King's 10-word acceptance of the standards got its own simple slide: "The Commissioner accepted recommendations from Day 5 with no changes." (The full slideshow is below the jump.) The flourish was a signal of the new transparency the department is trying to project around test scoring. In 2009, under then-Commissioner Richard Mills, dramatic improvements on state tests that had been seen as signs of academic progress across the state came under scrutiny for being inflated — not representing actual learning gains. The inflation seems to have been the result of several factors, including focused test prep by teachers who became increasingly familiar with the tests. But at least one observer, Sol Stern, has reported that state officials might have deliberately inflated results by lowering cut scores so that more students would be deemed proficient. Commissioners do not have to accept the recommendations of the committee of educators that suggests where to set the scores.
June 20, 2013
With Regents delays stretching on, city recruits overtime scorers
A teacher took these pictures of a computer screen at a Regents exam scoring site today. One message shows that all of the items that had been scanned had already been scored. The other shows that many answers remain to be graded. The Department of Education originally said scoring would be complete today, but the timeline has been extended. The Department of Education is desperately recruiting teachers to make up for Regents exam scoring time that CTB/McGraw-Hill lost. The department needs thousands of graders to work through tens of thousands of test questions that were supposed to be scored already. The scoring hit snags because of breakdowns in the electronic process that the testing company set up, leaving students without scores as high school graduations begin. "As you know, there have been problems in processing and scanning exam materials for the June Global and US History exams which have resulted in delays grading these exams," reads an email that history teachers received late Wednesday. Later, it notes, "Participation is voluntary, and we encourage you to consider taking part in this activity and help to complete the scoring of these exams in as timely a manner as possible." Several teachers said they and their colleagues were torn about whether to take the overtime offer, which would net them just under $42 an hour on Friday night and over the weekend.
March 7, 2013
Eschewing Pearson, state goes back to McGraw-Hill for GED
Nearly a year after Pearson, the testing company, took a public beating for mistakes on the exams it produced for New York State, state education officials are piling on. Today, the State Education Department announced that the state will forgo a new high school equivalency exam made by Pearson in favor of its own exam, which the publishing company McGraw-Hill will produce. The state announced that it would consider other vendors to create an equivalency test after Pearson partnered with the non-profit group that had previously produced the GED, which people who have not graduated from high school can take to show they are prepared for college, work, or the military. Cost was a major concern: Pearson's test will cost $120 to start, twice what the current exam costs. "While the GED was run by a not-for-profit, the system worked fairly well. But a Pearson GED monopoly would put our students at the mercy of Pearson’s pricing," Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said in a statement today. "We can’t let price deny anyone the opportunity for success. That’s why, rather than pay Pearson twice the current cost or limit the number of students who can take the exam, the Regents approved a competitive process to develop a new assessment."
August 3, 2010
Tough times for McGraw-Hill, and not just because of testing
McGraw-Hill CEO Terry McGraw III, appearing on CNBC. The full interview can be seen ##http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232?play=1&video=1396376379##here##. What goes on at McGraw-Hill, the mysterious Midtown company that makes New York's state tests? One answer: The company is not-so-quietly producing a slew of ratings lambasted for being inflated, corrupt, and totally bankrupt. I don't mean more state test scores. I mean credit ratings churned out by Standard and Poor's, the ratings agency that makes up nearly half of the company's business, according to CNBC. Yes, that's the same ratings agency that has been criticized for inflating the value of companies from Enron to Bear Stearns. One of the biggest criticisms of S&P and agencies like it is that their customers have an inherent interest in being rated highly.
October 31, 2008
Daily News on "fat cats": Would it be news if it wasn't killed?
Disney's Aristocats. (Via Flickr) We covered the Daily News’s story on the “fat cat lives” of top school officials because the story was…
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