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Bar lowered for MCAS tests Sunday, September 14, 2003
Brian Carter Metrowest Daily News
Re: "MCAS numbers up, gap still there" (Sept. 4, 2003):

It is clear from the way Gov. Romney and the state Department of Education reported the 2003 MCAS results on Wednesday (Sept. 3, 2003) that the need for remedial math extends to Beacon Hill.

The governor and the Department of Education jubilantly reported that a record 75 percent of high school sophomores passed the MCAS exam on their first try this year, up from 69 percent in 2002.  They also called attention to the record 89 percent of sophomores who passed the English exam, a 3 percent increase over last year, and the 80 percent who passed the math test, up from 75 percent in 2002.

But the governor and the Department of Education failed to mention the creative accounting required to manufacture the class of 2005's so-called robust MCAS performance.  And after the PR spinning has abated, the harsh and relentless truth remains.

In fact, it took fewer -- yes, fewer -- correct answers in 2003 to pass the 10th grade math and English tests than a year ago.  An already-low bar was notched down even further.

In 2003, a student who earned 19 of 60 possible points on the math MCAS "passed."  That's not even one out of every three available points, and still it's down from the 21 out of 60 points needed in 2002.  In English, it took 38 points out of a possible 72 points to "pass" in 2003.  That's also down -- from 41 points out of 72 in 2002.  The "educrats" simply scaled the tests differently to gin up the results.

The 10th grade 2003 MCAS scores aren't better than 2002.  They're worse.  Do the math.

BRIAN CARTER, Marlborough

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