This week, the Minnesota Board of Teaching Standards and Rules Committee plans to assess cut scores as some share dissatisfaction and challenges with the process, according to Allen Hoffman, MREA’s representative on this BOT advisory committee.
Certain tests, namely World Language Content and the Basic Skills Math, have been identified as potential areas of concern. The Basic Skills Math test has a pass rate of about 75 percent. That is not what the BOT wants.
The specifics of setting cut scores are a function of the Board of Teaching members, who are political appointees. Currently, the BOT is made up of about 50 percent Pawlenty appointees and 50 percent Dayton. They come with varying agendas.
Behind the decision
When Pearson Testing Company, with whom Minnesota has contracted for teacher testing, brings in recommended cut scores, the BOT can say yea or choose to raise or lower them. To lower is not very often chosen as states are very concerned about how they look in the eyes of the nation. Education Week produces an annual report on states in which all states get report cards on their preparation of teachers. Some of the factors include in the states’ “grades” are cut scores of tests for teacher candidates. So there is a lot of pressure to look rigorous and to have high standards, even though high cut scores may or may not mean rigor and high teaching standards, and does not guarantee the most highly qualified teachers.
Currently, most Minnesota cuts scores have been set at one standard deviation above the recommendation from Pearson, in response to some BOT members who see a correlation between high test scores and great teachers. Politically, it is hard to argue against this as any move toward lowering required scores can be seen as coming from someone who wants to lower quality. The BOT Standards and Rules Committee is about to go back into this important topic despite the politics.
MREA is looking for teachers, a board member and an administrator who are interested in being appointed by Governor Dayton to the Board of Teaching. There will be five openings in January 2013. For more information, contact MREA Executive Director Fred Nolan at 320-333-8890. Currently, there is only one member on the BOT farther from St. Paul than Shakopee.