Live chat: Understanding Minnesota’s standardized testing

MPR’s education reporter, Tom Weber, has a story about the state’s standardized testing, in which students — and this is particularly crucial for high school juniors — need to show proficiency in math and reading in order to graduate.

So at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Tom is going to be here on News Cut answering your questions about the testing which has just been completed.

What sorts of questions? Let’s start with this paragraph in his story:


… what Minnesota and at least two dozen other states do is called ‘standard setting.’ They establish the grade at which is student is considered proficient, it could be 87 or 57. They find that magic number by first reviewing every test question to see how well students did on each. That’s key, according to John Willsee, because it lets everyone know how hard the test was. Willsee teaches educational research at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro.

Wait a second! They establish what “proficient” is after the students have already taken the test and “proficient” is based on how well students did on each?

Willsee’s view?


“What they want to do is ensure they don’t use these rough rules people grew up with, like 90% is passing. That’s actually completely arbitrary. they take all this information into consideration in setting an appropriate cut score that will be fair to test takers.”

On the surface, it sounds like we’re deciding what “proficient” is after we find out whether the students are.

That’s my question for Tom. What’s yours? We’ll see you here at 9.