# Mostly a vent/lament, but homeschoolers who just don't

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Posted (edited)
On 5/31/2021 at 9:14 AM, prairiewindmomma said:

Our state requires 15%. I think we should require higher as just picking a standard answer should trigger a score of 25% or so if you just choose one answer in a multiple choice test. I came to this position after several moms one year decided to just have their kids report the answer B on the exams. They scored higher than 15%. They were advising that other moms do the same this year. *sigh*

This is NOT true when looking at percentile score. To get 25th percentile you need to score better than 1 out of every 4 students--better than 25 out of every 100 students--either in the actual test group or the sample the test was normed on, depending on how percentile is determine for a particular test.

This is not at all the same as getting one out of every four questions right, unless the test was normed on a group where for every hundred students answering 100 questions on average one student got 1 correct and 99 wrong, another student got 2 correct and 98 wrong, another student got 3 correct and 97 wrong, etc. with precisely one out of every hundred students getting each possible score. That is an exceedingly implausible scenario.

Multiple choice tests can be tricky because the "wrong" answers are often specifically chosen to mirror common student errors. My sister teaches at a Title I school where a majority of the students score lower than would be predicted if they filled in the bubble sheet at random--or chose B for every answer. A majority of the students. More than 50%.

That means that, if her school sample were used to determine percentiles, someone who answered B to every question would be ABOVE the 50th percentile.

By contrast, if more than half the kids in a group got 3 out of 4 answers right a kid who got 75% of the answers right would score below the 50th percentile for that group.

We really do need to be careful not to conflate percentile scores with "percentage correct" or even with material mastery. All percentile scores do is compare the test taker's performance with that of other test takers.

Edited by maize
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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, maize said:

This is NOT true when looking at percentile score. To get 25th percentile you need to score better than 1 out of every 4 students--better than 25 out of every 100 students--either in the actual test group or the sample the test was normed on, depending on how percentile is determine for a particular test.

This is not at all the same as getting one out of every four questions right, unless the test was normed on a group where for every hundred students answering 100 questions on average one student got 1 correct and 99 wrong, another student got 2 correct and 98 wrong, another student got 3 correct and 97 wrong, etc. with precisely one out of every hundred students getting each possible score. That is an exceedingly implausible scenario.

Multiple choice tests can be tricky because the "wrong" answers are often specifically chosen to mirror common student errors. My sister teaches at a Title I school where a majority of the students score lower than would be predicted if they filled in the bubble sheet at random--or chose B for every answer. A majority of the students. More than 50%.

That means that, if her school sample were used to determine percentiles, someone who answered B to every question would be ABOVE the 50th percentile.

By contrast, if more than half the kids in a group got 3 out of 4 answers right a kid who got 75% of the answers right would score below the 50th percentile for that group.

We really do need to be careful not to conflate percentile scores with "percentage correct" or even with material mastery. All percentile scores do is compare the test taker's performance with that of other test takers.

Yes.  Percentile is a measure of rank within a group.  Very different than a percent correct score.

By definition, one third of kids are going to rank 33rd percentile or less.  33rd percentile is well within the range of normal, statistically speaking (well within one standard deviation from the mean).

Edited by wathe
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That's also why 15th percentile actually does make sense as a cut-off to trigger a review (at least it makes sense to me), because those below the 15th percentile are below one standard deviation from the mean and are statistically not normal.

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1 hour ago, wathe said:

That's also why 15th percentile actually does make sense as a cut-off to trigger a review (at least it makes sense to me), because those below the 15th percentile are below one standard deviation from the mean and are statistically not normal.

Yes, I see that, although that would often wind up with kids with LDs being reviewed. This is why I worry about sticks and not carrots. Perhaps we should make sure everyone gets reviewed and that the process isn't scary...

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I don’t think standardized testing should be used as a benchmark to assess homeschooling using the standardized scores.

Someone is always going to be at the bottom of a standardized chart, by definition someone must be there. Requiring homeschoolers to not be those people is not a realistic requirement.

Standardized testing without also measuring personal growth is only a partial picture of education.

I think it’s useful information to have both of these, but I do not believe either of these should be used to dictate where a child should be “allowed” to access education.

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9 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

Yes, I see that, although that would often wind up with kids with LDs being reviewed. This is why I worry about sticks and not carrots. Perhaps we should make sure everyone gets reviewed and that the process isn't scary...

For sure.  But if there is a cut off, it should at lest make some kind of mathematical sense!

i’m fortunate enough to be in a province that’s very low regulation, so I don’t have any personal experience.  But it seems that 33rd percentile is used as a cutoff to trigger a review in several states , and it just doesn’t make any sense to me to be flagging kids whose test results are well without the range of normal.

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On 5/24/2021 at 7:18 AM, Not_a_Number said:

Interesting. I don't think I'd be comfortable with that approach, since I don't think I trust my kids on what they want to do before the teenage years. Like, DD8 has mostly said she wants to be a gymnast. Watching what she does on her own time, it's pretty clear she's not going to want to be a gymnast. She IS in fact a very active kiddo, so I understand why she says it, but it's also clearly not the life path that will come most natural when she's older. But she isn't old enough to see it yet... plus, kids have a really hard time modeling an adult life.

I can see how that gets kids to practice thinking about what they want, though, which seems cool.

Yep this kind of stuff can be tricky.  My dd loves working with animals so for a lot of years I thought she would be a vet or vet nurse.  But she’s realised that working with animals that are sick and maybe dying actually isn’t what she wants so she’s currently dreaming about being an urban search and rescue person.  Apparently the thought of searching for dead humans bothers her less than the thought of potentially dealing with dead animals.

Oldest has always wanted to do something in fishing but DH has strongly discouraged it due to the pay and conditions being so poor here in Aus.  And he’s not focussed enough to do something sciencey in that area.  Then he’s interested in forestry.  What I can see though from my viewpoint is that he’s brilliant at designing and making things with a degree of precision that I could never achieve.  So with this kid I can’t imagine having streamed him to any great degree.  And then my nine year old just wants to be a lego designer and I’m pretty sure the competition for that role will be super tight.

On the other hand I have family members who are very smart and academic and resent the fact that they were pushed into an academic career that they hated because that’s what they were good at.  They would rather have worked as an average tradesperson or labourer. So I’m mindful of that as well.  This is why we end up stuck following a somewhat broad curriculum imperfectly instead of focusing on their areas of success.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

The state with the 15th percentile rule appears to be Oregon; I looked it up and the actual regulation seems rather reasonable. If the child is below the 15th percentile, they must retest the following year (tests are not normally required every year, just in certain grade levels). If their test the next year is at or above their original percentile, nothing is done. If testing is below the 15th percentile and DROPS for three years in a row there is a review. An alternative individual plan can be set up if a child has learning disabilities and, if memory serves, a child on such a plan may be assessed by alternative means other than standardized tests (I looked this up yesterday and am writing from memory so may not have all the details right).

The law is clearly designed to catch cases of actual educational neglect such that a child is both not performing well AND is not making progress from year to year, while attempting to make allowances for kids who are going to struggle in spite of being taught.

So...not monstrous. But also maybe not going to do any good and just add an extra burden to families that are responsibly educating.

I'm not a fan of standardized testing as an assessment tool, and as @prairiewindmomma's story of testing "strategy" highlights, families who want to game the system can usually find a way--or they just go underground.

I am another who generally favors the carrot-not-a-stick approach; psychological research shows that humans in general respond better to positive than to negative incentives. A PP talked about Alaska and funding through the public system; where flexible (so the parent remains in control of curriculum and other educational choices) public funding is available few families turn it down even though it comes with additional oversight. This is true in my state and my family is one of those that takes advantage of it. It is absolutely a win-win in our case in satisfying both the needs of the family (funds to provide a higher quality education than we could provide on our own and access to resources such as speech therapy and extra tutoring for my dyslexic kids) and the interests of the state in ensuring children are educated.

Even public funding doesn't come with mandated standardized testing here because all public school parents in this state are legally allowed to exempt their children from standardized testing. Some years my kids test because the way our education system works it can be good to have standardized testing experience and also because most of my kids test well so their scores will reflect positively on the program they are enrolled in. I want such programs to remain an option for all families in this state.

Most years I exempt them from testing because we've got more than enough on our hands already.

I very much value educational flexibility and am happy to have the option of independent home schooling if the publicly-sponsored option should cease to be a good fit. My state imposes no reporting burden on independent homeschoolers. While I acknowledge that such liberal (in the old-fashioned sense) policy leaves room for educational neglect I have seen no evidence that regulations such as those requiring standardized testing actually decrease levels of neglect. I won't support such policies unless shown convincing evidence that the added burden to families is balanced by a significant increase in positive outcomes.

ETA Ausmum I didn't mean to quote you here but can't get rid of the quote box.

Edited by maize
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16 minutes ago, maize said:

The state with the 15th percentile rule appears to be Oregon; I looked it up and the actual regulation seems rather reasonable. If the child is below the 15th percentile, they must retest the following year (tests are not normally required every year, just in certain grade levels). If their test the next year is at or above their original percentile, nothing is done. If testing is below the 15th percentile and DROPS for three years in a row there is a review. An alternative individual plan can be set up if a child has learning disabilities and, if memory serves, a child on such a plan may be assessed by alternative means other than standardized tests (I looked this up yesterday and am writing from memory so may not have all the details right).

The law is clearly designed to catch cases of actual educational neglect such that a child is both not performing well AND is not making progress from year to year, while attempting to make allowances for kids who are going to struggle in spite of being taught.

So...not monstrous. But also maybe not going to do any good and just add an extra burden to families that are responsibly educating.

I'm not a fan of standardized testing as an assessment tool, and as @prairiewindmomma's story of testing "strategy" highlights, families who want to game the system can usually find a way--or they just go underground.

I am another who generally favors the carrot-not-a-stick approach; psychological research shows that humans in general respond better to positive than to negative incentives. A PP talked about Alaska and funding through the public system; where flexible (so the parent remains in control of curriculum and other educational choices) public funding is available few families turn it down even though it comes with additional oversight. This is true in my state and my family is one of those that takes advantage of it. It is absolutely a win-win in our case in satisfying both the needs of the family (funds to provide a higher quality education than we could provide on our own and access to resources such as speech therapy and extra tutoring for my dyslexic kids) and the interests of the state in ensuring children are educated.

Even public funding doesn't come with mandated standardized testing here because all public school parents in this state are legally allowed to exempt their children from standardized testing. Some years my kids test because the way our education system works it can be good to have standardized testing experience and also because most of my kids test well so their scores will reflect positively on the program they are enrolled in. I want such programs to remain an option for all families in this state.

Most years I exempt them from testing because we've got more than enough on our hands already.

I very much value educational flexibility and am happy to have the option of independent home schooling if the publicly-sponsored option should cease to be a good fit. My state imposes no reporting burden on independent homeschoolers. While I acknowledge that such liberal (in the old-fashioned sense) policy leaves room for educational neglect I have seen no evidence that regulations such as those requiring standardized testing actually decrease levels of neglect. I won't support such policies unless shown convincing evidence that the added burden to families is balanced by a significant increase in positive outcomes.

ETA Ausmum I didn't mean to quote you here but can't get rid of the quote box.

lol I must admit I was a little confused

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3 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

lol I must admit I was a little confused

Yeah I saw your quote show up when I posted and was confused myself!

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Speaking of percentiles how would you understand this wording?

% of students with this score or higher xx.xx%

That sounds to me like it means you scored in the 100- xx.xx percentile but it’s not how those things usually work.  Usually the percentile is from the top.

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3 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Speaking of percentiles how would you understand this wording?

% of students with this score or higher xx.xx%

That sounds to me like it means you scored in the 100- xx.xx percentile but it’s not how those things usually work.  Usually the percentile is from the top.

Percentile as far as I know always means "the percent scoring below this score" OR "the percent scoring at or below this score" (exclusive or inclusive usage).

So a student who scores at the 60th percentile scores higher than (or higher than or equal to) 60% of students.

The percent of students with "this score or higher" would be about 40%; that is percent of students but not a percentile rank.

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In Colorado a test score below 13%ile can trigger intervention by the school district.

Colorado requires testing in odd grade years from 3rd to 11th. It must be a nationally normed test - CAT, ITBS, Terra Nova and SAT/PSaT all count, the test issued to Colorado public schooled students does not. The test is supposed to be submitted to a district.

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2 hours ago, maize said:

Percentile as far as I know always means "the percent scoring below this score" OR "the percent scoring at or below this score" (exclusive or inclusive usage).

So a student who scores at the 60th percentile scores higher than (or higher than or equal to) 60% of students.

The percent of students with "this score or higher" would be about 40%; that is percent of students but not a percentile rank.

Yes that was my understanding.  I think they used the word percentile incorrectly on one page of the document which gave me a minor heart attack.  I looked through the details and they have the score of zero as 100pc with decreasing percentages for increasing scores.  Anyway I don’t think I need to rethink my entire year 9 approach to geography after all.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

My dd loves working with animals so for a lot of years I thought she would be a vet or vet nurse.  But she’s realised that working with animals that are sick and maybe dying actually isn’t what she wants

Yep. I was “cured” of wanting to become a veterinarian at age 9 when one of our kittens had an unfortunate encounter with a crayfish & lost an eye…

My own DS8 has no idea what he might one day be interested in & absolutely HATES being asked. He doesn’t like being asked to pick a favorite color, let alone a favorite career!

ETA: That said, we did have a fun one afternoon playing with a “career aptitude” questionnaire. I could see that being an enjoyable exercise to repeat from time to time.

Edited by Shoes+Ships+SealingWax
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