Daley acknowledges that state test may be too easy

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Today Mayor Richard M. Daley joined with CPS head honchos to boast about another year of modest gains on elementary school standardized tests. But, perhaps humbled by a recent report that called into question the validity of gains and the claims of progress, Daley suggested that the state test needs to be re-evaluated.

 

Today Mayor Richard M. Daley joined with CPS head honchos to boast about another year of modest gains on elementary school standardized tests. But, perhaps humbled by a recent report that called into question the validity of gains and the claims of progress, Daley suggested that the state test needs to be re-evaluated.

Catalyst didn’t receive word about the press conference and therefore didn’t attend. Let’s just call it a technical glitch that we are working on remedying.

But in the press release, Daley said that he is “increasingly concerned that the state tests that are required to be taken by every student are easier to pass and less strict in their standards than they used to be.” He went on to say “I believe there needs to be a full discussion about implementing new state tests to assure that we have confidence in them and that their results better reflect how a student might succeed in the real world,” according to the press release.

Daley’s hesitancy to wantonly celebrate the test scores comes on the heels of a report released last week by the Civic Committee that called CPS’ claims of improvement under Daley and CEO Arne Duncan a fallacy. The report’s authors noted that the biggest gains came in 2006—the year the ISAT was changed and perhaps made easier.

The report’s claim is nothing new. Catalyst and analysts from the Consortium on Chicago School Research have for years repeatedly pointed out that test revisions led to a dramatic increase in test scores. However, we have also noted that, adjusting for the revisions, there have been improvements, though to a lesser extent than declared by Duncan and Daley.

Still, even as Daley acknowledged the possibility that gains are inflated, he started by noting that the trend upward is in the right direction. This past year, the overall composite score is up two points from last year and now nearly 70 percent of students met or exceeded standards. The biggest gain is in math where scores are up 4 percentage points to 73.5 percent.