The state Board of Education made the right call when it recently decided to set a lower passing high school graduation score for next spring’s Common Core math and English tests.
The standardized tests, known as the Smarter Balanced exams, will set a new bar for students beginning next spring. A score of 3 or 4 means students are ready for college and careers, but for next year, the passing high school level will be just above a 2.5.
That new standard may be a bit lower than the ideal, but it is a reasonable, first-step expectation.
It takes time to adjust to a new set of exams, and that’s why the state Board of Education was wise to allow some leeway for those students who have to set the base line.
Besides, state officials emphasize this is a temporary standard until they can review test results properly. The experiment, so far, has not produced reliable data.
The new tests were given for the first time this past spring, but a large number of high school students opted not to take them. Most already had fulfilled their high school graduation requirements, including scoring well on the old exit exams, so they didn’t see the need to be tested again.
Statewide, 53 percent of students took the 11th-grade English assessment, and 50 percent took the junior math test. Without more participation, state officials were left to guess how to set a fair high school graduation standard for next year.
They opted to set a score they believe most kids who passed previous tests would be able to hit. That makes sense.
A high school diploma should mean students are ready to soar, but it is not fair to halt their send-off because they were caught in a changing testing system.
This is excerpted from the Tri-City Herald.