If your child passes state tests, is he doing OK? If she’s at grade level, does that mean she’s on the college track? Not necessarily, writes Sarah Carr in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Louisiana students take the LEAP or iLEAP in grades three through eight, and the GEE, or Graduate Exit Exam, starting in the 10th grade. They must hit “basic” to advance out of the fourth or eighth grades and to graduate.
A basic score means the student is working at grade level, parents are told. But basic on the GEE correlates to a 19 on the ACT, while a state-funded college scholarship requires a minimum ACT score of 20.
Many public schools focus intensely on increasing the number of students scoring at basic since at least one basic score is required to advance at the high-stakes grades. But if they want to prepare their students for college, and help them afford the tuition, schools need to increase the number of students scoring at the “mastery” and “advanced” levels.
The advantage of the ACT comparison is that it has real-world consequences in terms of college acceptance and financial aid that parents are more likely to understand than more abstract references to “grade-level” work.
“Here is where the race to lower cut scores, dumb-down tests and otherwise create an illusion of proficiency where none exists exacts a terrible toll,” writes Robert Pondiscio on Core Knowledge Blog. “For low-SES children in particular it is entirely possible–even likely–for a child to attend school faithfully, do everything that is asked, earn decent grades and pass all standardized tests put before them, yet still graduate years behind their peers who had the good fortune to attend better schools and get a more rigorous education.”
He suggests linking report cards to admission to a state university: Tell parents if the student is on track for guaranteed university admission.