A story in Sunday’s Washington Post alleges that Montgomery County school officials added 15 percentage points to high school Algebra 1 math scores. Why? Because the vast majority of students failed the final exam, that’s why.
School officials provided a variety of excuses for the abysmal test results, and then simply tacked on an extra 15 percentage points to raise the failure rate from 82 percent to only 68 percent, according to the Post story by Donna St. George. Based on the new, improved, fake scores, 623 additional students in MoCo high schools suddenly passed the test.
To celebrate, the schools printed new, improved report cards, which were mailed out three days late. (I’m not making this up. You can read the story in hard copy in the Metro section, page C3, June 29, 2014.)
Hurray for Montgomery County! Another great accomplishment for our heralded public school system.
The Post story provides additional information, but leaves unanswered a host of important educational questions. Do county test scores have any integrity? Any validity? Is there any possible way of knowing if test scores reflect student learning or teacher performance? Who shredded the original report cards? Is there any cure for my early onset cynicism?
Taking this dystopian fantasy a step further, are test scores tabulated on the same computers used to count votes in county elections? Or the same computers used to project the traffic impact of high-density development?
Maybe the Post story is in error? Maybe I’ve terribly misrepresented the story? Can anyone provide a believable explanation?
Alternatively, can anyone provide an entertaining fictional explanation? The comment space below is available free to creative minds. No word count limit. The prize for the best entry is a week of substitute teaching in a ninth-grade algebra class.
— John Hayden