Changes to New York State Assessments

An email went out today on the NYS DATAG (Data Analysis Technical Assistance Group) listserv regarding pending changes to the NYS 3-8 assessments. Most prevalent for this (2009-2010) year was the following:
The math exams will move from March to May and will expand to cover performance indicators that: 1) have not been tested before; or 2) have not been tested within the past two years. Over the span of the 6 grades tested, on average, a minimum of approximately 25% of the questions on the 2010 math exams will cover performance indicators that were not covered by the questions on the 2009 Tests. The number of actual test questions will remain the same.
I posted a response to the listserv regarding the implications on instruction, especially for schools that have used carefully constructed historical test maps to determine their curriculum and test prep focus. It's always difficult to figure out what will provoke a response on the listserv and as of this posting no one has replied. (One drawback of listservs - hitting "reply" sends a reply to poster, not the entire listserv. No telling how many comments the original poster of the SED documents received)

Additionally, the issue of similar items appearing year after year was addressed by a variety of media sources (e.g. GothamSchools). It is my hope that these changes were underway before the articles came out, rather than changes being a response to perceived testing flaws. We owe it to NYS students to assess them using psychometrically sound assessments, not assessments that appease the public. In the words of David Abrams, "This is rocket science." If SED increased the item pool based on an article in the newspaper, then a psychometric fairy just lost its wings.

What are your thoughts? Is it fair to include standards that haven't been previously tested? What other implications do you see for the field?

To read more about the coming changes (including mention of vertical scaling and secure tests in 2010-2011), check out the Regents update here.

1 comment:

Mrs. Tenkely said...

I hope that the assessments have been well thoughtout and are meaningful rather than being a rash response to complaints about the test. Assessment that isn't meaningful and doesn't collect a fair look at what students know isn't worth keeping.