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Letter: Faulty measures of college readiness

Students walking through a college campus.

Students walking through a college campus. Photo Credit: iStock

“Garbage in, garbage out” describes what happens when the failure to use accurate and reliable data leads to inaccurate conclusions.

The same expression can describe the state’s flawed, arbitrary benchmarks for college and career readiness, which have caused much turmoil. The benchmarks have fueled the opt-out movement, led to the development of inappropriate questions on Common Core exams and fed a false narrative about the quality of our public schools [“Troubling gap at high schools,” Editorial, Jan. 19].

New York State United Teachers recently released research that found the benchmarks are set so high that, to achieve “proficiency,” New York students are required to score as well — or higher — than two-thirds of all college-bound students nationally.

High expectations are admirable and necessary. But, the state’s measuring stick must also fairly measure how well its public schools are preparing students.

Instead, NYSUT found the state relied on flawed measures, including the percent of students who scored proficient on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, as well as data that examined the correlation between PSAT and SAT scores and student success as college freshmen.

The state’s third proficiency benchmark is the best example of bad input leading to bad output: New York is using a one-year study of two Regents exams taken by New York City high school students attending CUNY to make unsupported assumptions about current college and career readiness.

Just as it did with the rushed implementation of the Common Core, the state imposed these flawed benchmarks without the necessary input from education stakeholders. Then New York rolled out massive changes in standards and testing based on three faulty benchmarks not tied to any reliable research.

NYSUT endorses a clearly defined vision of college and career readiness for all students — one involving parents and other education stakeholders at every step. The state should scrap its current system and reform how it measures which students are on track for college.

Catalina Fortino, Albany

Editor’s note: The writer is vice president of New York State United Teachers.