Diane Ravitch concurs, "The tests are written above grade level. The cut scores (passing marks) are equivalent to 85%, more or less, probably more. Most kids will fail. The SBAC and PARCC have said so when they aligned the tests with NAEP proficient, which is not average or grade level but a high passing score."
In order for children to understand what they are reading, the content must be at the correct reading level. A lexile score is used to determine if a text is grade level. Here an Illinois teacher did the work for us. She explains how the "new and improved" standardized tests are setting our kids up to fail, as they are written beyond student frustration levels.
"Frustration reading levels include text for which a reader does not have adequate background level for a topic and/or cannot meet criteria for instructional levels of accuracy and rate. Think of frustration levels as those levels that require extensive or even moderate assistance from an educator. To get a sense of frustration level text, think about a skill or ability for which you have expertise (e.g., skiing, knitting, writing, playing a musical instrument). It is very likely that you developed this ability gradually, and with assistance. You took on more challenging levels when you had mastered your current level. Now imagine being a beginner again, and facing advanced, or even intermediate level tasks every day. Would working at "frustration level" help you to make progress? What might happen to your motivation for learning? Now, think about the fact that many children read at frustration level for most of their day. It is a tribute to the resiliency of children that they forge onward!"
Teacher, Gerri K. Songer, analyzed the English/Langugae Arts questions available on the
What did she find?
"The Grade 4 reading passage requires an independent reading level of 1230L. This text would be appropriate for the score band of students in Grade 12..."
How about this:
"The Early High School (Grade 9) reading passage requires an independent reading level of 1250L. This text would be appropriate for the score band of students above Grade 12, post-secondary education (Grades 11 and 12 – 940-1210L). The text in this passage should be in the range of 855-1165L."
It is time our legislators learn about developmental psychology or get out of education decisions. Songer knows her stuff, and explains just a bit below.
"High school students are at varying stages of their cognitive development, and the average student should not be expected to complete the multi-step, finitely detailed, mental manipulation of text needed to process information at the level of sophistication used by PARCC. The frontal lobe of the human brain is not fully developed until after age 20. The frontal lobe is concerned with reasoning, planning, problem-solving, parts of speech, executive functions (organization), judgment, emotions, and behavioral control. It allows for abstract thinking, an understanding of humor (subtle witticisms and word plays), sarcasm, irony, deception, and the mental processes of others. Other functions include: memory, sequencing of events, flexibility in thinking processes, attentiveness of focus."
Need more reasons why "rigor" is an excuse to set our kids up for failure?
Read the entire analysis. You may be shocked and dismayed... Or perhaps you have known it all along.