U.S. News and World Report on Monday published an interesting article highlighting a study that showed underprivileged students were struggling with the new Common Core-aligned Algebra Regents Exam in New York.
The Hechinger Report who produced the article notes:
The state began upgrading its traditional high school exams, known as the Regents, to the Common Core standards in 2014. But because teachers hadn’t been teaching the new Common Core material for very long, officials decided to give students a safety net: They would continue to administer the old exam, along with the new Common Core exam, and the students could use whichever score was higher.
In the case of algebra, many students took both the old and new exams within a few weeks of each other during June 2014. And that created a wonderful laboratory experiment to see how these same students – most of them eighth- and ninth-graders – did on these two different algebra tests. It also may have given us a troubling forecast for what tougher Common Core exams will reveal as they are administered in the rest of the country.
David Rubel, an educational consultant in New York City, examined the algebra testing data by different groups of students, and he noted an interesting pattern, in a discussion paper posted on his website. Higher-income students, and those without disabilities or English language barriers, passed the new Common Core exam at about the same rate as they passed the old exam. That’s not because they had instantly mastered the new Common Core material. But rather, as part of the transition to the Common Core standards, policymakers set the passing mark at place where at least 65 percent of all test takers would pass it, which is approximately the same percentage of students that had passed the algebra Regents exam in previous years. As a result, a student could pass the new Common Core exam by answering as few as 35 percent of the questions correctly.
Color me not surprised.