2 + 2 = 5? New York students can get partial credit for wrong answers or no answers at all on the state exam, reports the New York Post.
Despite promises that the exams — which determine whether students advance to the next grade — would not be dumbed down this year, students got “partial credit” for wrong answers after failing to correctly add, subtract, multiply and divide. Some got credit for no answer at all.
Students can get half-credit or more for showing fragments of work related to the problem.
Examples in the fourth-grade scoring guide include:
* A kid who answers that a 2-foot-long skateboard is 48 inches long gets half-credit for adding 24 and 24 instead of the correct 12 plus 12.
* A miscalculation that 28 divided by 14 equals 4 instead of 2 is “partially correct” if the student uses the right method to verify the wrong answer.
* Setting up a division problem to find one-fifth of $400, but not solving the problem — and leaving the answer blank — gets half-credit.
* A kid who subtracts 57 cents from three quarters for the right change and comes up with 15 cents instead of 18 cents still gets half-credit.
* A student who figures the numbers of books in 35 boxes of 10 gets half-credit despite messed-up multiplication that yields the wrong answer, 150 instead of 350.
These questions ask students to show their work. The scoring guidelines, called “holistic rubrics,” require that points be given if a kid’s attempt at an answer reflects a “partial understanding” of the math concept, “addresses some element of the task correctly,” or uses the “appropriate process” to arrive at a wrong solution. Despite flubbing the answer, students can get 1 point on a 2-point problem and 1 or 2 points on a 3-pointer.
Scorers joked about giving points to kids who wrote their names, brought a pencil or shared gum, a Brooklyn teacher told the Post.
A year ago, Chancellor Joel Klein boasted that more students are passing the tests, but didn’t say that “the number of points needed to pass proficiency levels has, in most cases, steadily dropped,” reports the Post.