Okay. So in following my new policy of occasionally trying to write about things that I actually have some, however limited, experience with, I’d like to talk about No Child Left Behind. In Colorado, NCLB made it necessary to take the CSAPs for every year from third to tenth grade. Last year the testers realized that they were sending us meaningless numbers every year, and I got a nifty copy of all of my scores from sixth to tenth grade, on a scale that compared them. So, here they are. (Click on the image to see the whole thing)
You may be wondering what on earth happened to my reading scores in 9th grade or my 10th grade math scores. I’m wondering the same thing. In fact, I don’t even have a clear idea of how well I did compared to anyone else. For all I know from the scores, I could have been the worst person tested in the entire state. Beyond that, I’m not really even sure how well I did compared to myself.
To attempt to put some of this into perspective, 10th grade was the year I got a 5 on the AP Calc BC test. Yet my math CSAPs went down. Does that drop mean that my math skills failed me, or that the test was harder? Or is the difference within some sort of range of error? I also can’t explain why I was allegedly better at reading in 8th grade than any other year. It’s kind of…sad. Maybe I cared more.
Now let’s pretend that my scores are the average scores for the school. Luckily, most of the students got advanced on their CSAPS. Yet the school probably did *not* make AYP, or adequate yearly progress. The way it works, the school must either decrease the percent of people who did not make proficient by ten percent, or meet a performance goal where the eventual target is to have 100% proficiency in math and reading by 2014.
Cherry Creek High School, my actual high school, a very high performing school, did not make AYP in reading or math. Probably because it is impossible to get everyone to proficiency, and as the school already has about 86% of its students at the required level, it can’t raise this by 10%. The school still received a rating of excellence.
Schools are also required to break down results by race and socioeconomic group. At Cherry Creek, 90% of Whites were proficient or advanced, compared to 49% of Hispanics, 59% of Blacks, and 80% of Asians. Every single one of the groups had worse scores in ’07 than ’08, but not by very much.
In general, we can see that these sorts of standardized tests do not make much sense for individuals (like myself) or for schools because minorities can get left behind even in the best of schools and without adversely affecting the ratings. We can also see that AYP doesn’t make very much sense.
All that I’ve been able to conclude from this (other than the obvious that NCLB needs some work) is that my public education has failed me. 😛