Recently he wrote about end of year math tests in Montgomery County. Apparently half of the students fail these tests. These aren't state standardized tests, these are county created. Montgomery County students are doing significantly better on the state tests than on the county ones.
Mathews sees this failure as a positive thing.
Those big failure rates prove that Montgomery is one of the rare school districts that administers end-of-course tests challenging enough to flunk, thereby exposing poor student preparation and weak state standards.I don't buy it.
An end of the course test covers a ton of material. Material students may have been quite successful with back in October, but can't recall as well by June. (Quite possibly, these tests cover too much content.) It's also a test that is given at a chaotic time of year. The end of a school year is full of events, fun and stressful, that impact students and teachers in many ways. One impact is that students may not be at their peak for attention, focus, and recall. That could impact end of course test results.
In addition, has anyone considered that these students may be all tested out? How many state, county, school, and classroom tests have they taken before these end of course tests? How much energy do they have left by the end of the year?
And if these students had phenomenal pass rates for these end of course tests would that prove that they are smarter than other students? Would it prove they learned more? Or would it prove they are good at cramming and taking tests?
I might have let all that go and moved on with only minor irritation if Mathews hadn't brought up one of his favorite stats near the end.
Graduation barriers are similarly low in most other states, even though in the past 30 years there has been no significant increase in average reading and math achievement for 17-year-old Americans.Are my children (my daughters and my students) expected to be smarter than I was at their age? Am I expected to be smarter than my parents were at my age? Why do we expect that average reading and math scores will go up each year? Why must the next group of kids do better than the ones before them? When do we cap out? When do we say, "We did it. We achieved our goal."?