Passing Integrated Algebra apparently does not mean much
Dan Koretz (Harvard) and Jennifer Jennings (NYU) (f/k/a Eduwonkette) looked a little at kids who take New York State exams. Turns out, the exams don’t predict much, or at least don’t predict what some people thought they did.
Math A (now Integrated Algebra) are the graduation requirement in mathematics. And many kids passing the exam had to take remedial math when they got to college. Something’s not right.
Is the cut score too low? That’s the conclusion that’s being drawn across the media and the commentators.
“The bar was set too low,” Deputy Education Commissioner John King said at a Board of Regents meeting. “But we are changing that now,” he pledged.
He is wrong. The bar wasn’t set too low. The tests stink.
Almost all the kids (over 90%) who squeak by with a 65, 66, 67, 68, or 69 take remedial math in college. I guess that’s not a big surprise (though it’s really not right)
Over two thirds of the kids who score in the 70s take remedial math in college. Does that suggest that the passing score should be higher? Keep reading.
Just 10% of those taking the exam score above 80. So 80 is some sort of gold standard? Or maybe that’s where the passing score should be set. No and no. One quarter of those students take remedial math in college.
The NY State Math Regents measure the ability of a student to take and pass the NY State Math Regents. The exam is aligned with overly-broad standards. The exam is poorly written. The exam is poorly designed. It tests vocabulary skills and guessing skills. It tests test-taking skills.
The NY State Integrated Algebra regents exam does not measure knowledge or skill in algebra, or in any area of mathematics for that matter. It cannot be fixed. A student’s score on this exam will never correlate strongly to SAT scores or college placement.
It is time to admit that the New York State Education Department is no longer good enough to create mathematics exams.