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The Great Proficiency Debate


Hi Matt, I enjoy reading your blog entries. I would like to add that people should be cautious of proficiency "gains" (should they choose to ignore your last bullet point). Many people add and subtract proficiency rates without considering that a percentage point change in the middle of the distribution (e.g., from 50% to 51%) is not the same magnitude as a percentage point change closer to the tails (e.g., from 90% to 91%). The former gain is smaller than the latter when proficiency rates are more appropriately expressed as log-odds. Of course, many people don't understand what proficiency rates mean, let alone proficiency log-odds. Regards, Chris

Below are two excerpts from recent press coverage of the recent elementary ELA and math test scores (from two differently-leaning sources one might argue). Despite your advice above, you’ll note the reporters’ use of the terms “flunk” and “passed” in these articles. Achievement gap widens for students after city’s new standardized tests "The harder state tests did more than cause two-thirds of city students to flunk..." Fewer than One Third of New York City Students Pass State Tests "Test scores for New York City students plummeted this year, with 26.4 percent of third through eighth graders passing the English tests and 29.6 percent passing the math tests."


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