Instant gratification is all we know in these fraught, technological-driven times.
Post on social media? Give it 10 seconds and then stare at the device wondering where all the reads, likes, and reposts are.
Order from Amazon? Fume when you realize the delivery time is only a guess, not a guarantee (those days of Prime guaranteed delivery within 48 hours are over) and the product is not thrown over your fence and onto your porch when the website said it would be.
Door Dash? Uber Eats? Where’s my <ahemed> food?!
We live in an age of instant gratification. We want what we want now and we’re not willing to wait.
Then there are the K-12 state tests, the ones that take weeks and weeks for the results to arrive even though the tests are taken on computers and can be scored instantaneously. You have to wait.
In this year of 2023, Florida’s been waiting nine weeks for the release of testing scores from mid-March. Why so long? Forensic analysis is done on the tests. While there is no need to scan answer sheets for excessive erasures (yes, that was really a thing), student responses for each testing group are compared to see if there are any tests that have similar answer choices that violate some statistical parameter that the test mavens have set.
If so, the results for those tests are embargoed. Schools that want to pursue a release of scores have to file an appeal, which is why the proctors have to create a seating chart so the school can demonstrate where the children were sitting. If they were far enough apart, the appeal will be successful as there is no physical way two students sitting across the room from each other can be sharing answers.
It’s a long wait. In the spring, it’s particularly egregious as some of those students waiting for retake scores are seniors. They have completed all of their requirements, jumped through all of the hoops except one. They have paid all their fees and are waiting to pick up their cap and gown so they can march proudly across the stage as their name is read. They wait and wait and wait as the big day draws closer. Will they walk?
But this post is not about the long wait. That’s the set-up for the new reality and the new tests whereby test results are reported almost instantaneously.
Friday, Grumpy Old Teacher’s (GOT) school administered Florida’s End of Course exam in Geometry. It is a 160-minute test. If students aren’t finished, they are allowed to continue working until the end of the school day. Thus it was that at the end of the 160 minutes, students who had finished were dismissed to lunch and their remaining classes even as some students remained in the testing rooms.
GOT was amazed that within an hour students were walking up to him and telling him how they did. “I’m Level 2. I missed Level 3 by one question.” (Level 3 is passing; Level 2 is not.)
Before the end of the day, a parent had called GOT to talk about the test result and what her options were for her child.
Instant gratification. All of us crave it, but how does the state do their cheating check? Is Florida really going to let parents see that their kid passed, identify suspicious answer patterns, and pull the score back?
Good luck with that, Florida. The genie is out of its bottle and there’s no putting it back.
This also means that the state cannot review the results and adjust the passing score upward if the overall results have the students scoring too highly. That’s one of the dirty secrets about these state tests. If too many students pass what the state has determined ahead of time, the state moves the cut scores upward. Even worse and this is not even whispered, but if you pay attention to the raw score (percent of questions answered correctly) and the reported scores (known as a scale score, which the state determines according to some secret sauce much like Coke never reveals its formula,) you see where the passing score has dropped across the years.
For the old Florida Standards Assessment, a raw score of 28% was a pass when the test first rolled out. In its final years, that had dropped to around 26%.
What’s up with that?! you ask.
It’s simple. The Department of Education has a narrative to maintain about the success of Florida’s education reforms despite their crappy teachers. They have to support their prewritten media release and that requires manipulation of the results. It’s not an easy act to pull off. How do you credibly take credit for what other people have done while you condemn them for not doing it?
But that’s all over now. Florida is reporting results the same day. Read that again, Florida is reporting results the same day. GOT will need a tailor to let out his clothing sizes lest he burst out of them from laughing if Florida tries to adjust its cut scores after the fact and tells parents that the passing score was not, in fact, a passing score.
The genie ain’t going back in.