The Proficiency Illusion
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Northwest Evaluation Association
State Tests Vary in Difficulty
Different meanings of “proficiency” have real world consequences.
Reading Exhibit 2 – Grade 4 item with difficulty equivalent to Wisconsin’s proficiency cut score (scale score 191 – 16th percentile)
Which sentence tells a fact, not an opinion?
A. Cats are better than dogs.
B. Cats climb trees better than dogs.
C. Cats are prettier than dogs.
D. Cats have nicer fur than dogs.
Reading Exhibit 5 – Grade 4 item with difficulty equivalent to Massachusetts’s proficiency cut score (scale score 211 – 65th percentile)
Read the excerpt from “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” by Leo Tolstoy.
So Pahom was well contented, and everything would have been right if the neighboring peasants would only not have trespassed on his wheat fields and meadows. He appealed to them most civilly, but they still went on: now the herdsmen would let the village cows stray into his meadows, then horses from the night pasture would get among his corn. Pahom turned them out again and again, and forgave their owners, and for a long time he forbore to prosecute anyone. But at last he lost patience and complained to the District Court.
What is a fact from this passage?
A. Pahom owns a vast amount of land.
B. The peasant’s intentions are evil.
C. Pahom is a wealthy man.
D. Pahom complained to the District Court.