Thursday, February 4, 2016

Better PARCC results on paper than on computer

EdWeek now picked up the story around the significance (and I use the word advisedly) difference between the scores of students who took PARCC on a computer versus those who took it on paper. For example, in Baltimore:
They found a strong "mode effect" in numerous grade-subject combinations: Baltimore County middle-grades students who took the paper-based version of the PARCC English/language arts exam, for example, scored almost 14 points higher than students who had equivalent demographic and academic backgrounds but took the computer-based test.

This was mentioned here in Worcester more than once, and I've heard from other districts in Massachusetts that it was noted there, as well. As a result, many chose to conduct all PARCC assessments on paper this coming year, even if (as in Worcester) they have the capacity to do it online. I have yet to hear any remedy coming from the Department regarding last year's scores, however:
Assessment experts consulted by Education Week said the remedy for a "mode effect" is typically to adjust the scores of all students who took the exam in a particular format, to ensure that no student is disadvantaged by the mode of administration.
PARCC officials, however, said they are not considering such a solution. It will be up to district and state officials to determine the scope of any problem in their schools' test results, as well as what to do about it, Nellhaus said.
Such uncertainty is bound to create headaches for education leaders, said Michael D. Casserly, the executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents 67 of the country's largest urban school systems.
"The onus should be on PARCC to make people aware of what these effects are and what the guidelines are for state and local school districts to adjust their data," Casserly said.
As I heard more than one person mention yesterday: it will be interesting to see what the Mass Board of Ed makes of this, particularly with the Department's push to conduct all assessments online by 2019.

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