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Standardized Test Scores From a Different Angle

August 24, 2003

Re "Report Card," Aug. 16:

The data provided by The Times for the standardized test scores on high school mathematics provide a grossly inaccurate report.

Simply put, the California standards-based testing does not test students by grade level but based on the courses in which they are enrolled.

For example, a ninth-grade student may have completed Algebra I, or even geometry or Algebra II, in eighth grade and is now enrolled in geometry, Algebra II or even pre-calculus.

The most accurate way to report test scores for the California Standardized Testing is the same manner in which the state reports this data -- by subject, by grade level.

That may not be manageable for any newspaper for the sheer size and space the report would demand.

One could, however, report by subject (Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II) summarized across all grade levels.

The Times indicated that 37% of the ninth-grade students' scores at Northwood High School were considered "at or above proficient" on the California math standards questions.

If you go online to the original data, the state report shows that out of 402 ninth-graders tested at Northwood, 221 were tested in Algebra I, 165 in geometry and 16 in Algebra II.

What The Times data did not show is that 86% of the 165 ninth-grade students in geometry and all 16 ninth-grade students in Algebra II had scores that were considered "at or above proficient" on the California math standards questions for those courses.

The test data for 10th- and 11th-grade students are also reported inaccurately.

At a time when test scores are under tremendous scrutiny, it is absolutely imperative that the media reflect scores and data for public schools accurately.

The clarifying and corrected information provided here for Northwood High should be presented for all high schools in mathematics.

Tony Ferruzzo


Northwood High School


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