Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bonus Baffler

The curiously large gap between Student X's verbal and math SAT scores (see below) is mirrored by the curiously large gap between his reading vs. math scores on those mandatory NCLB/CCSS state tests. Year after year he earns a "Below Basic" score in reading and an advanced score, in the 99th percentile, in math.

He is fully included in a science and engineering magnet, with accommodations in English and social studies classes. His un-accommodated classes include an elite BC calculus class, discrete math, and AP computer programming. His unweighted GPA is approximately 3.5, and he earned a 4 last year on the AB Calculus AP exam (where it is assumed, based on his performance on practice tests, that he lost points for not showing sufficient work on the "free response" questions).

But his official state reading scores remain significantly "Below Basic."

Soon, for all but the most severely disabled 1-2 % of students, scoring proficient on the mandatory state tests will be mandatory for high school graduation. Given that these tests are supposed to measure 21st Century Skills, Higher-Level Thinking, and whether students are "College and Career -Ready," should students like this one be allowed to graduate from high school?

Or should they remain in high school for as many years as it takes for their reading scores to inch out of "Below Basic," past "Basic," and into "Proficient"--on the assumption that there will still be something left of the 21st Century by the time that happens?


Anonymous said...

I think my answer to this bonus baffler is that the rules can't be set by the specifics of outlier cases, which this baffler almost certainly is. In this case, there's a student who has a truly specific learning disability. Should the student obtain the same certificate (high school diploma) as someone who has met other standards? That's an ideology, not education question. Maybe the right answer is that one should have different diplomas in different subjects?

We'd have another baffler if the student's testing also did not accurately reflect his proficiency in the subject (say, the student can read well, but the testing doesn't reflect that). I believe though, that you are not asking us to address that additional baffler here.


gasstationwithoutpumps said...

There are other options. For example, the student could get a "high school completion certificate" that is not a diploma. Some colleges may be willing to accept a student with very high math skills and very low reading and writing skills. Others will not. Some colleges are willing to accept students who do not have high school diplomas. Others are not.

Personally, I think that, for the high school diploma to mean anything, it should reflect at least minimal competency in reading, writing, and math.