In their eagerness to prove that public schools are failing, Connecticut’s leaders have agreed to passing marks on Common Core tests that are guaranteed to fail most students.

Wendy Lecker explains that the “cut scores” (or passing marks) were selected with full knowledge that most students would fail.

Outgoing state commissioner Stefan Pryor (soon to be state commissioner in Rhode Island) and his aides:

“……voted to set the SBAC [Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium] cut scores so that only 41 percent of 11th graders will pass in English and 33 percent will pass in math. In elementary and middle school, only 38-44 percent of students will pass in English and only 32-39 percent will pass in math.

“Standardized test passing rates are based on arbitrary and political decisions about how many students decision-makers want to fail. SBAC admits it cannot validate whether its tests measure college readiness until it has data on how current test takers do in college. In fact, SBAC declares that the achievement levels “do not equate directly to expectations for `on-grade’ performance” and test scores should only be used with multiple other sources of information about schools and students.

“Since the vast majority of factors affecting test scores occur outside school, test scores are poor measures of school quality, teacher quality and student performance.

“Yet, with his November vote, Pryor guaranteed that many successful Connecticut students and schools will now arbitrarily be declared failures.”

Since NAEP state testing began in 1992, Connecticut has consistently been one of the top three states in the nation, along with Massachusetts and Néw Jersey. Yet most of its students, teachers, and schools will arbitrarily be stigmatized as “failures,” by design.