Remediation In the Era of PARCC Exams

From Politico‘s morning roundup (boldface mine):

Critics say the Ohio State Board of Education is practicing some fuzzy math on the Common Core, having voted earlier this week to depart from general benchmarks on the PARCC exam. Students who are “nearing expectations” according to PARCC benchmarks will be given a promotion of sorts in Ohio, where they’ll be considered “proficient.” If Ohio stuck with PARCC’s benchmarks, about a third of students would be meeting standards, according to the early data, which includes only students who took the online tests. The board’s change roughly doubles the number of students meeting standards. “This discrepancy should give pause to parents, community leaders and policy makers who expect transparency in Ohio’s transition to higher standards and new tests,” Karen Nussle, executive director of the pro-Common Core group Collaborative for Student Success, wrote [] in a memo earlier this week. It “suggests that Ohio has set the proficiency bar too low and undermines the promise of ensuring kids are on track for college and career.”

Meanwhile, in New York state, around seventy percent of students failed to meet the proficient benchmark. While these benchmarks are probably too strict–they are modeled after the NAEP score of proficient, which is essentially A work–let’s, for argument’s sake, take them seriously.

That leads to a problem (boldface mine):

As has been widely reported, our students statewide have been failing the NYS tests at about 70%. One would think that the need for AIS [Academic Intervention Services] would skyrocket and the need to hire new teachers would increase as a result…

To recap, we are telling certain students that they are not meeting the standards and they are not proficient, but we (schools) are not required to provide them with Academic Intervention Services. The reasons for this are obvious: the costs associated with hiring enough AIS teachers to get students to meet proficiency levels would be enormously expensive. Also, if AIS was deemed necessary for 70% of the students in a school, the parents would revolt due to the loss of other academic programming in lieu of AIS (e.g. — loss of recess, PE classes, health, art, music etcetera in order to “fit in” AIS).

Unless you believe that the primary reason the huge majority students are ‘failing’* is due to teachers–and even the hardcore VAM-ites concede their models don’t indicate that, we’re going to need a ton of intervention services: longer school years, smaller class sizes, better resources, and so on. I’m cool with that, but I don’t see reformers calling for these interventions. Instead, they jigger the numbers, like in Ohio, and thus the punishment falls on poor minority communities** that lack the political power to fight this insanity–or get the resources they need.

But I’m sure that’s just an oversight on the part of reformers.

*Even in Massachusetts, which internationally is one of the best school systems in the world, would have ~50% of its students ‘fail’ based on their performance on the NAEP (below ‘proficient’). Do half of Massachusetts’ students really need remediation? That strains credulity to say the least.

**The biggest mistake the reform movement ever made was inflicting this crap on suburban Long Island–and then doubling down by telling one of the wealthiest and highest-achieving areas that their kids just weren’t that smart. Oops.

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