Monday, March 10, 2008

I Condemn the Weighted Regents Pass Rate and Everything it Stands For

Plainly stated, the Weighted Regents Pass Rate sucks. For those of you who don't know, the WRPR is an assessment of a school's performance based on students regents test scores.

As you can probably guess, the Regents Pass Rate part stands for: What percentage of students pass their regents? I guess that one's okay. If your being taught well, you would likely be able to pass a regents test, (except for Math B, I know many kids who've scored in the top 5% on the SAT's and have had to take Math B two or even three times).

Then comes the "Weighted" part. That's where it gets tricky.

See, because of that little weighted part schools are given extra points for getting kids to take their regents earlier or achieving "mastery", scoring and 85% or above. This little tiny eensy-weensy "weighted" part, now puts the whole test prep culture that is so darn prevalent in our schools on STEROIDS. It is now become the SUPER DUPER AWESOME PUMPED UP EXCELLENT-TASTIC TEST PREP CULTURE.

See, because of that SUPER DUPER AWESOME PUMPED UP EXCELLENT-TASTIC TEST PREP CULTURE a lot of students' lives get kind of messed up.

I have a friend who passed her Math B in eighth grade based on the rock solid well oiled test prep curriculum at her middle school. She then came to high school, got dumped into pre-calculus, didn't know any of the material, struggled and even failed her first two years of math, and eventually had to be put in classes that were prerequisite for a test she'd already passed. This made her look kinda bad on her college apps and messed with her self-esteem.

So, while the school got points for having a student take the Math B so early, the student suffered.

In my discussions with the DOE regarding the NYC Student Union's positions regarding the Progress Reports, I have consistently argued that the Weighted Regents Pass Rate needs to be cut down or removed. Their reply has been that it is the only measure of "longitudinal growth."

Regents aren't supposed to measure any "longitudinal growth." This growth they speak of has more to do with the day's weather, test-taking skills, and student anxiety than it does with the quality of teaching and learning that goes on in the school.

Regents are there to make sure that teachers are teacher their students and students are attempting to learn the subject matter at hand, to hold standards. That's it. Maybe its okay to look at them for achievement when an individual student come to college admissions for CUNY and SUNY, but when it comes to measuring a school's success, a Regents Pass Rate will do.

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