Blog: The Educated Reporter

Shedding light on cut scores.

Lots of talk among ed reporters this week about cut scores—lowering them to ensure that more students pass, raising them and seeing more students fail. It is a nearly impossible topic to report really well, given that states tend to make the process, and the tests, utterly opaque. Not to mention that “making the questions harder” is sort of vague.I liked this effort, back in 2007, by Washington Post reporter Ian Shapira to show at least a tiny little bit about what setting cut scores looks like. (That part is at the end of the article.) Please, do what you can to show how, specifically, your state changes the questions and/or scoring regimen. If state officials won’t reveal enough to be able to illuminate readers, write about that too.

And in case I don’t beat this drum enough: The New York situation serves as yet another reminder that usually what we are talking about is PASS RATES, and not SCORES that are going up. Pass rates can go up while student scores go down.

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