2013 DC-CAS Scores Released (Sort of)

The DC Office of the State Superintendent has released a spreadsheet with overall proficiency rates in reading and math and a combination of the two for the  spring 2013 DC-CAS multiple-choice test. You can see the whole list here. and look for your favorite school, charter or public.

Overall, percentages of students deemed ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’ seem to be up a bit from last year. At some schools, the scores went up enormously — which we know is often a suspicious sign.

But there are several major problems with this data:

(1) We have no idea whether this year’s test was easier, harder, or the same as previous years’ tests, since the manufacturer is allowed to keep every single item secret. The vast majority of teachers are forbidden even to look at the tests they are administering, to see if the items make sense, match the curriculum, are ridiculously hard, or are ridiculously easy.

(2) We have no idea what the cutoff scores are for any of the categories: “basic”, “below basic”, “proficient”, or “advanced”. Remember the scams that the education authorities pulled in New York State a few years ago on their state-wide required student exams? If not, let me remind you: every year they kept reducing the cutoff scores for passing, and as a result, the percentages of students passing got better and better. However, those rising scores didn’t match the results from the NAEP. It was shown that to get a passing grade on certain tests, a student only had to guess about 44% of the answers to get a proficient score — on a test where each question had four possible answers (A, B, C, D). (NYT article on this)

(3) In keeping with their usual tendency to make information hard to find, the OSSE data does not include any demographic data on the student bodies. We don’t know how many students took the tests, or what percentages belong to which ethnic group or race, or how many are on free or reduced-price lunch, or are in special education, or are immigrants with little or no English. Perhaps this information will come out on its own, perhaps not. It is certainly annoying that nearly every year they use a different format for reporting the data.

I think it’s time for a Freedom of Information Act request to get this information.


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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. PS: supposedly, this year’s DC-CAS was modeled on the Common Core, since the DCPS curriculum this past year was Common Core, as opposed to the Massachusetts-based curriculum we used for the previous 8 years or so.
    If that is the case, then it’s a brand-new test, and only by the utmost chance would the scores really be comparable.


  2. PPS: I have put in several phone calls to the DC OSSE data office; no response yet at all.


  3. Guy, I went to the OSSE NCLB site and I see that I can only get reports as recent as 2011.
    Where do they have the data (as at the OSSE NCLB site) for 2012 and 2013 so we can really break down data by school grade subject, race FARM, ethnicity etc?


    • I tried to provide the link to the 2013 data. There is no by-school demographic data at all, and none by grades either. I don’t have the 2012 data handy cause I’m on vacation. But it exists, just not in the usual place. Search my blog for OSSE 2012 or CAS 2012 and you should find it. No response from several calls to OSSE data People . give it a try.


  4. I found the data.

    Also, indirectly, DCPS has said the SY12-13 tests were different:

    At a standing room only meeting, Chancellor Henderson released DC CAS scores from the 2012-2013 academic school year. The DC CAS are a series of standardized tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards, and measure a student’s mastery of reading, mathematics, science, and writing composition.

    They weren’t aligned to common core last year.


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