Testing. Testing. 1-2-3
Let's consider the canard often put forward by school choice detractors about the issue of "testing." Specifically, we mean the statement, "We won't be able to measure the progress of students who enroll in private school, because they don't take an apples-to-apples standardized test." Much like transportation, accreditation and private school discrimination, this is a concern quickly answered.
First off, South Carolina public schools take the PASS test, an anemic descendent of the PACT test that so many teachers hated. In the name of heeding the concerns of all the people who complained about PACT, Jim Rex (we miss putting up pictures of the former superintendent) and his educrat cohort worked to implement a test that would show quick and dramatic improvement for student achievement, regardless of whether that actually took place. The PASS was born of a plan to simply widen the goal posts.
If you doubt that level of intentionality, read what the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) said of the PASS. NWEA declared PASS to be "significantly easier" than the previous test, and said that the "newly proposed PASS standards would rank among the bottom quartile in a recent cross-state comparison of proficiency standards within 27 states." We think it's fair to say that PASS advocates don't have much a moral high ground to stand on when questioning whether independent schools take legitimate achievement tests.
In contrast to the weak, expensive and politically-motivated PASS, independent schools have the ability to test their students with a range of recognized, nationally-normed achievement tests that provide prompt feedback at a fraction of the cost that PASS eats up.
"But they're not apples to apples comparisons with South Carolina public schools." Actually, that isn't true. The state's education "watchdog." the Education Oversight Committee (EOC) has stated that it is completely capable of using statistical tools to make apples-to-apples comparisons of achievement across different tests. Specifically, the EOC said they could, "Determine a Normal Curve Equivalent (NCE) for each student to understand where the studentscores relative to the norming group of students" and also "Administer each nationally normed test to a group of SC public school students who are also administered PASS. Then create a statistical linkage between scores on the assessments, converting the national test scores to a PASS scale."
In other words, the tests can be compared on an "apples-to-apples." This is a completely invalid reason for preventing parents from having educational options. The Voice encourages you to forward these posts to friends and family who might have questions. Also consider visiting www.scrgov.org/why/myths/ to learn more about the myths that are commonly cited as facts in debate over school choice.