Florida Board of Ed approves Algebra 1 EOC cut score that would have flunked 46% of test-takers last year

The Palm Beach Post reports that the Florida Board of Education has approved a minimum passing score on the Algebra 1 end-of-course exam that would have resulted in 46% of last year’s test-takers receiving a failing grade.

The Board’s approval of the Algebra 1 EOC cut score came during a conference call meeting in which new cut scores for the math and language arts FCAT’s were also approved.  The most controversial decision made during the meeting involved the 10th grade reading test.  The Board adopted the recommendation of Commissioner Robinson to make the passing score two scale points higher than recommended by two committees of educators and community members.  While two scale points sounds like a small amount, it would have resulted in 15,000 more Florida 10th graders failing the test last year.

The philosophy behind setting scores at levels that result in catastrophic failure rates, as has been done with the Algebra 1 test, is that schools will rise to the challenge and successfully push their students to better achievement.  However, given the severe shortage of strong math teachers and the lack of interest so far demonstrated in Florida to meaningfully address that shortage, wishing for higher math achievement levels may just be equivalent to believing in the Tooth Fairy.

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2 Responses to Florida Board of Ed approves Algebra 1 EOC cut score that would have flunked 46% of test-takers last year

  1. Doc Carr says:

    You seem to have access to the people who can generate the relevant information for a coherent view of this situation.

    1. The use of the past tense suggests that some other cut score is being used to decide if current 10th graders will pass this exam and thus qualify for HS graduation. What percentage of current 10th graders have passed the math requirement on their first try?

    2. A graph showing two curves, one for passing the math graduation requirement on the first attempt in 10th grade and another showing all of those who have passed it by the end of 12th grade (including, of course, ACT or SAT substitutes), over the past decade would be interesting. The 54% passing the math part under the new scheme could be shown with an open circle.

    The same graph for reading and writing would also be instructive.

    3. Passing this test yet failing to “pass” the college math placement test is at the heart of the STEM pipeline problem. Here I am using “pass” loosely, to indicate MAT1033 placement rather than MAC1105 placement. That should start to show up in the next year or two, and I am mildly optimistic.

    Past data indicate that the old minimum reading and writing pass level of a “2” meant many needed developmental courses, while a “3” was close to college ready. In contrast, the old math cut scores only promised that you were ready for developmental math and had to be near the top of the range to be college-ready. Both have important implications for tenured faculty who specialize in teaching those topics at the CC level.

  2. Pingback: Next Florida Senate President files bill to provide schools with incentives to push advanced math and science courses « Bridge to Tomorrow

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