Friday, August 24, 2001

Study: Test can't predict preparedness

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Scores on the reading portion of the state's fourth-grade proficiency test can't necessarily predict whether students will succeed in the fifth grade, according to a second state-commissioned study.

        “You can't tell with 100 percent certainty,” said Mitch Chester, assistant superintendent for the Ohio Department of Education's Office of Curriculum and Assessment.

        “That's why the scores should not be the sole determinant in whether a student should be held back. The scores should be a flag that alerts teachers to those who need more help,” he said.

        Under a new law, administrators will use the reading scores only as factors in deciding whether to retain students. The law also requires students who don't pass a reading test in the third grade to get extensive help.

        Researchers obtained the reading scores of 4,562 students who took the March 2000 proficiency test in 73 schools. Before the fourth-grade teachers had seen the scores, researchers asked the teachers whether they thought each student's reading skills were strong enough for the children to be successful in the fifth grade.

        The teachers' responses were compared with the test results.

        Researchers then questioned fifth-grade teachers about each student's readiness and performance at the start of the following school year and in spring 2001.

        Of 765 students in the study who failed the reading test, 577 were described in fifth grade as “academically successful.” The others were described as “not academically successful.”

        Despite that finding, Mr. Chester argued that using test scores to predict student success in the fifth grade is reliable.


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