Wednesday, March 11, 2009

KDE Messes Up EXPLORE and PLAN Score Release

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) messed up their news release on the latest results from EXPLORE and PLAN tests taken by our eighth and tenth graders this past fall.

This is a screen shot of a table in the report highlighting the KDE’s serious misrepresentation that the national scores on EXPLORE remained perfectly flat in all subjects between 2006 and 2008.

In fact, the text near the top of the news release says, “For the 2008 administration, scores nationwide remained flat, while Kentucky’s overall scores increased in nearly every subject area.”

This whole presentation is absolutely misleading.

Here’s the truth. The only national comparison scores available for both EXPLORE and PLAN are from the fall of 2005. That is the last time the ACT, Incorporated, which produces these tests, conducted a random sampling to determine national norms. So, there is no way to know if the national sample has been flat between 2006 and 2008.

This explains why the national scores the KDE presents in their tables are perfectly flat for all subjects for all listed years. They really are all just the 2005 scores. Anyone familiar with testing would immediately question such perfectly flat results. Apparently, that didn’t happen at the KDE.

By the way, later in the news release the KDE admits the national scores come from 2005, saying, “The national normative data for EXPLORE and PLAN are based on students who took all four academic tests within standard time limits as part of a national study conducted in Fall 2005.” But, this just adds confusion due to the earlier text comments and the two highly misleading tables in the release.

The table presenting the PLAN scores in the news release has all the same flaws.

Kentuckians deserve to be told that the new Kentucky EXPLORE and PLAN scores for 2008 are being compared to a national sample taken three years earlier and that the implication that the national scores have been flat since 2006 is nonsense.

I will contact KDE to ask for a corrected news release. Kentucky, you deserve better.

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