Ever since the state of New York has implemented Common Core testing, the number of eighth graders who failed the Regents Common Core Algebra I exam has sky rocketed from 14,000 in 2012 to 44,483 most recently, the New York Post reports.
In August of 2012, a raw score of 31 out of 86 points, or a mere 36 percent, was required of students to pass the eighth-grade math test. This past year, this was lowered to 30 out of 86 points, or a 34.9 percent.
Still, the passing grade has been further manipulated and “New York high-schoolers who took the Regents Common Core Algebra I exam this month had to earn just 27 out of 86 points, or 31.4 percent, to pass,” David Rubel, a consultant for city parochial schools told the New York Post.
In an effort to raise the overall pass rate, the state Education Department has continually lowered the raw points required for a passing score of 65. A 65 is considered a performance level of 3 which is defined as “partially meeting Common Core expectations.”
Prior to the pass rate being dramatically lowered to a dismal 31.4 percent, the rate at which students were passing plunged to 63 percent in 2014-2015. However, ever since the standards have been lowered, the students statewide pass rate has increased substantially to 72 percent.
This manipulation of pass rates has education experts dubious. Aaron Pallas, chair of education policy and social analysis at Columbia’s Teachers College, argues that we should be demanding more of students as they accumulate more complex and rigorous math skills.
“Kids should be doing better. It should require a higher score to be proficient, but that’s not yet what we’re seeing. It’s going the other way, which is puzzling,” he told the Post. Pallas contends that the issue of setting standards is largely a “political” one.
Bob Schaeffer, a public education director for the national watchdog FairTest, says, “If the test’s difficulty has remained constant from year to year, then it certainly looks like passing the Algebra I exam became easier.”
Schaeffer echoes similar sentiments as Pallas stating that, “cutoff scores have been manipulated to produce politically desirable results in many jurisdictions.”
Nonetheless, the 317 percent increase in the number of students who failed the Regents math test lingers. “I think you have a storm warning. That’s a huge number of kids not on track to graduate,” Rubel said.