Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Reformer Test Score Axioms

A few quick thoughts this morning. Here are a few axioms which have guided our testing and accountability reform advocates:

  1. Low test scores are good (shows we need change).
  2. Test scores going up is good (what we're doing is working).
  3. Test scores always go up (we see to that).

If you believe those things, you'll do what we've been doing -- periodically changing the tests to produce low test scores and reset the scale to take credit for the inevitable gains.

Reformers have come to see test score inflation as a process as "natural" and apparently inevitable as price inflation, except it is a metric that they can spin as a good thing.

The problem is that 1) and 3) don't hold anymore. People are finally accepting that the reformers are now the status quo, thus bad scores just make them look bad now. And they've managed to promote a new generation of tests which will probably not inevitably creep up, at least without a lot more overt manipulation. For example, it is easier for a state to manipulate the scores of a test that only they take compared to a multi-state exam, where everyone is going to be sensitive to comparison with other states.

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