Folks, there’s no secret way to explain it:  Education is the foundational fuel by which a nation innovates. It’s a non-monetary, (but plenty expensive) investment that will make Americans, and like this America, a beacon of hope for untold centuries to come.

And so we should strive toward the betterment of us all by pushing the envelope of American education to the highest echelon possible and then take a peek beyond and plan to conquer that, too. We landed on the moon, damnit! We really can do anything.

It appears as though the Democratically-governed Empire State disagrees.

New York will change what it takes for students to reach “proficiency” on state math and English language arts tests, calling last year’s lower scores the “new normal.”

A scoring committee that reports to the Board of Regents said Monday that they must take into account the results of last year’s tests for students in grades three through eight to determine whether schools are showing improvement from year to year. On Thursday, the committee wanted to clarify that they must also reset scores because the tests will have new performance standards.

Last year some schools posted shocking results — in Schenectady, no eighth grader who took the math test scored as proficient. And the scores for the third through eighth grade tests throughout the state were much lower in 2022 than in 2019, a result no doubt of the absence of in-person learning during the first year and beyond of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advocates have been voicing their concerns.

Some teachers have been pressing for tests to be “re-normed” so that students can pass at a lower level than in previous years, reflecting their learning loss.

But the executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education said the whole idea of changing the minimum score needed to be considered proficient diminishes people’s confidence in the tests.

“I think that just speaks to the politics of test scores and why so many families have been joining the opt-out movement,” Executive Director Jasmine Gripper said in an interview Wednesday.

Parents are realizing “that test scores aren’t a true reflection of learning,” she said, adding that changing minimum standards is nothing new. When she was a teacher, educators would encounter students who were rated as proficient but were not truly proficient, she said.

Suppose there is to be any hope left in this next generation of Americans. In that case, they will need to learn about trying, failing, and trying again…and lowering the bar isn’t going to provide that character-building experience.


Cross-Posted with Liberty Hub