January 26, 2007

Reasoning-free journalism/blogging

Wednesday's story by Pauline Vu, Lake Wobegone, U.S.A., and this afternoon's blog from Alexander Russo, States Not All Lowering AYP Standards, make a common enough blunder that one might expect from newbie state legislators, arguing that North Carolina's proficiency thresholds must be easy because you don't need to answer a high proportion of questions right to be proficient.  According to Vu:

By the state's yardstick, students had to answer correctly fewer than half the questions to pass. In some grades, they can flub two-thirds of the questions and still be marked "proficient."

While Vu's story is about the larger public-relations discrepancy between state judgments and AYP judgements (which are also state judgments passed through the AYP filter), the reasoning here is specious. Doesn't the judgment of the test's difficulty depend greatly on the difficulty of the items? Consider the Putnam Competition, the challenging college math exam where getting one or two problems right is wonderful. I'm not saying that NC's exams are that hard, but this writing is sloppy journalism.

Bad Vu and Russo. No cookie. (Update: Russo begs for cookie in comments and as an addendum to his blog entry.)

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Posted in Education policy on January 26, 2007 7:28 PM |