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Letter to Chancellor Joel Klein
Dear Chancellor Klein:
We write to clarify the misinformation you have distributed presumably on the advice of your test advisors. As parents we, too, have consulted test experts across the country.
We believe that your misinformed decision-making and public attacks based on this misinformation are extremely harmful to our children. We want you to do what is best for our children and not become defensive, like many public officials who try to fortify an indefensible position.
Social promotion is not the issue. Basing life decisions on one standardized test, a fallible test, produced by fallible human beings is the issue. We oppose decision-making by tests even with the additional of a last minute cumbersome appeals process.
Because of our concern about using the third grade test as a high stakes instrument we asked for information about the test itself. It wasn't easy to obtain.
Why was this information so difficult to obtain?
What's in the Report?
The test reflects a bias towards white children.
The Technical Report presents no evidence on how passing scores for the test have been set (pg 23, table 11). Test experts regard such an omission as contrary to professional standards. The passing score of 20 (raw score points) has been set. How was that done? The Report doesn't say. A passing score of 20 would imply that approximately 16,900 of NYC's 80,000 third graders will fail. Did your advisors tell you that?
The Technical Report defines a large error of measurement (pg 23. table 2). The test company reports that the test is accurate to within three questions. If the "passing score" were 17, this would mean that 11,500 would fail. If the 'passing score was raised 3 points, 22,800 would fail. So the error of measurement on the ELA test could lead to a swing of plus or minus 10,000 children failing the test and being "flunked" to repeat grade 3. Did your test advisors alert you to this?
Dr. Walter Haney, a nationally known test expert once hired by Commissioner Mills to review the Regents exams who reviewed the Report states that the Technical Report does not provide "even a scintilla of evidence to support the use of the ELA test as a reasonable basis on which to control promotion of students from grade 3 to grade 4."
Moreover, it says nothing about how the test matches New York State learning standards.
Who supports the use of high stakes tests?
Thus, both the test and the appeals process you have put in place are based on a flawed policy and subject young children to needless suffering and ultimately to unjust failure.
It is time to stop focusing on testing and concentrate on providing our children with quality education.
|produced by Naava Katz Design|