Thursday, July 11, 2013

"Proficient" on NECAP Math Far Exceeds "College and Career Ready"

Diane Kern:

Concerns about the NECAP’s accuracy in measuring college readiness were echoed by students like Sol Camanzo, an alum of Cranston East High School who just finished her second year at McDaniel College. “I graduated from high school with honors back before the NECAP was being used as a graduation requirement. Although I did well with the reading and writing portions of the NECAP, I scored below proficient on the math portion,” Sol said. “This did not prevent me from getting my high school diploma, nor did it prevent me from getting accepted to an institution of higher education. Today, I am proud to say that I am a biology major and I am doing well in all of my classes – including all of the math-based courses. My hopes are to one day go to medical school and become a pediatrician. I am living proof that this policy is premised on false assumptions.”

I spent enough time eyeballing college enrollment/retention/credit-earning data from PPSD schools recently to be confident that the rate of college success for RI students (low as it may be) far exceeds the NECAP math proficiency rate.

For example, the back of the envelope calculation based on available data is that probably about 40% of the 11th grade students in the Feinstein High School class of 2007 obtained at least a years worth of college credit two years after graduation. Now, that's probably way, way off because it comes from piecing together several data sets of unknown reliability, but that's from a school that averaged about 5% proficiency on NECAP math. And it is not an unusual case in general. In the past Classical has had NECAP proficiency around 50% (it is up now). Nobody really believes that 50% of Classical graduates are incapable of getting a "C" in CCRI's lowest credit bearing math course.

In the context of the current debate over graduation requirements, of course the rebuttal would be "That's why we're only requiring 'partially proficient' for graduation." OK, but as thin as the validity research is for NECAP math in general, it is even thinner to non-existent regarding the validity of the "partially proficient" designation.

If we wanted to have a rational discussion about this, we'd have to start by noting that empirically NECAP "proficent" in math is way out of line with reality.

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