Woodward, Okla. —
STUDENTS "TAKING THE RISK AND THE GAMBLE"
For many, Merchant said the decision whether to retest is a difficult one.
Especially as it was difficult for the school district to try to even determine which students might be on the borderline. The superintendent said that school officials essentially had to try and guess.
"The most frustrating part in the way they are doing this with those 8th grade students that were testing on Monday and Tuesday and having all the issues and problems, is that they will not release their scores, the cut scores as to what is proficient and what is not," Merchant said. "The testing company (CTB/McGraw Hill) is absolutely refusing to do that."
He said this means that school officials "are having to guess what we think might be the cut score and there is no way we can do that."
Essentially, he said the district is using the cut scores from last year's tests, which really isn't that helpful.
"By past experience the same cut score that was proficient last year is not necessarily the same one that will be this year," he said.
Even more than not being comparable year-to-year, Merchant said that "we have even seen it in the past that the different forms of the same test, where some students are taking form 1 and some are taking form 2, even different forms within a test will have different cut scores."
But with no other real direction or way to judge scores, Merchant said the district is just having to base its retesting decisions on how students' raw scores this year compare to last year's cut scores.
"Those who were well below last year's proficiency level, we've already set and ordered for them to retest," he said.
It is for those students who "are on the borderline," who scored close to last year's proficiency level where the difficult decisions have to be made, he said.
"With those students who scored at least fairly well, we have to be careful in our advisement to them on whether to retest," Merchant said, noting, "We don't want to advise them in the wrong way to go."
For example, he said "if last year 34 was the cut score to be proficient and if they scored a 34 right now, we're coming to them and saying, 'well we think you have passed.' But they may not, especially when they're hitting the test that close. Because if we encourage them and advise them don't retake the test, then all of a sudden it may come out that 35 is the cut score."
On the other hand it is possible that the student may have earned a proficient score, but decide to retest because they aren't sure and "they have a bad day as so often happens when testing," Merchant said.
"We don't want to advise them to retest and have something happen and them not be able to pass it," he said.
So when making the decision whether to retest or not, the superintendent said these students on the borderline "are taking the risk and the gamble."
"The catch-22 on this is that the student cannot take the higher of the 2 scores," he said, noting if they choose to retest, "we have to invalidate the test they took this week and it is just wiped out."