There was a memo from Candace Shryer to the principals
Each answer paper for all State examinations in mathematics should be rated by a committee with a minimum of three mathematics teachers to ensure the accuracy of the scores. Beginning in June 2011, schools are *no longer permitted *to rescore any of the open-ended questions on any Regents Exam after each question has been rated the required number of times as specified in the rating guide, regardless of the final exam score. Schools are required to ensure that the raw scores have been added correctly and that the resulting scale score has been determined accurately.
Responding to a suspicious spike in the number of students barely passing high school Regents exams, New York State education officials have ordered schools to end the longstanding but controversial practice of rescoring tests that fall just below the passing grade.
In recent years, statistics show, an unusually large number of students have obtained exactly the minimum score needed to pass the exams, which are required for graduation and are often graded by students? own teachers.
For more than a decade, state regulations required schools to reread science and math Regents exams with scores within five points of the passing grade, which has shifted from 55 to 65 over those years. The purpose was to ensure that no student would fail to graduate because of a scoring mistake.
But in practice, schools began to reread barely failing exams in every subject, according to several investigations and anecdotal reports. And at times, the process shifted from a quality review to an all-out effort to find points to help students graduate. Five Regents exams ? one each in science, math and English and two in social studies ? are required for graduation.
The order is part of a wider effort by the city and the state to shore up the accuracy of the Regents and other standardized tests as they ask them to carry an ever-growing weight in a data-driven accountability system for schools. In the next several years, teachers will begin to be judged in part on how well students do on the Regents. They are already an important factor in other high-stakes decisions, including annual A-to-F city school report card grades, whether schools are closed for poor performance, and whether principals are praised or fired.
Teachers call the practice of rescoring exams to find extra points scrubbing. Joel I. Klein, the former chancellor, vowed to end the practice in 2004, but anecdotal evidence indicated it continued, at least in some schools.
An English teacher at a Bronx high school, who insisted on anonymity for fear of retribution from her principal, said her administration ?would make us reread all the ones who were close to the 50, the borderline ones,? she said.
?When I couldn?t find any points,? she added, ?I wouldn?t give them.?
The open-ended questions on social studies and English tests were among the most likely to be rescored, according to anecdotal reports. An analysis<http://nyti.ms/lk6KG2>by The New York Times in February found that on the English and history Regents exams in the previous two years, students in the city?s public high schools had been roughly five times as likely to score 65, the passing grade, or slightly above it, than to score just below it.
But even on the algebra exam, in which there are no essays, 8,451 students got grades of exactly 65, while a combined 7,145 students ended up with a score of 61, 62, 63 or 64. Statisticians say that such a difference is out of line with the smooth scoring curve that should normally result.
In February, the city announced it would begin regular audits of schools that showed suspicious scoring patterns, and the city?s order to principals this week emphasized that it was the rescoring of grades around the passing bar that was of most concern. ?Scoring committees, once they have rated an exam, are no longer permitted to rescore them, regardless of final score,? the order read. ?Specifically, exams receiving a final score of 60 to 64 or 50 to 54 are not permitted to be rescored.? A version of this article appeared in print on May 26, 2011, on page A28 of the New York edition with the headline: State Ends A Practice Of Rescoring Regents Tests.