Skepticism Greets Big Test Gains

Maria Glod:

State reading and math tests taken by Maryland students were shortened and tweaked this year, leading some critics to question whether the shifts contributed to surprisingly strong gains in achievement.
State officials said the changes to the Maryland School Assessments, used to measure academic progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law, had no significant impact on performance. They said an outside panel of education experts determined that the tests were as difficult as last year’s exams or those administered in previous years.
Scores released Tuesday attracted attention because of dramatic gains — some of the largest since the federal law was enacted in 2002. Statewide, the share of students who received scores of proficient or better jumped six percentage points in reading to 82 percent, and four percentage points in math to 76 percent.