When Did Failing Become Proficient?

Do any parents honestly believe that their child deserves a passing grade for getting 50% of the questions asked on a test correct?  How about 33% correct – does that deserve a pass?

I’d bet that most of us would say absolutely not.  That a child who got 33 or 50% correct on a test didn’t pass.  

Unfortunately the education professionals in this country would disagree with us.

The Stanford Diagnostic Math Test (SDMT) is an exam given to students across the country.   A random selection of Prince William County School students are given the SDMT in first and second grades.  According to the recently released Year 3 Math Report, 75% of first graders and 80% of second graders tested were proficient in all areas.

That sounds OK, until you consider what proficient really means.

Proficient on the SDMT means 67% correct for first graders and 62% correct for second graders. Subtraction, according to the Year Three Report, is one of the subjects PWC students struggle to grasp.  But on the SDMT  50% correct for subtraction operations is proficient.  Second graders who get 33% correct in geometry and graphs are considered proficient.

As parent, if you’re told your child is proficient, or meeting expectations, you don’t worry.  You figure your child is doing OK and doesn’t need any additional help.  But if you knew that your child only got 62% correct, you’d be concerned.  

How can we help our kids improve if proficient is failing?

How can we claim progress when we keep lowering the standard for what qualifies for a pass?

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One Response to “When Did Failing Become Proficient?”

  1. jackie Says:

    Interesting link here: http://www.uschamber.com/icw/reportcard/default ~ Virginia earns a D for “Truth in Advertising About Student Proficiency.”


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