Honoring the State Board of Education’s Decision to Revisit Cut Scores

The new State Board of Education made a difficult but commendable decision this week.  At its September 18th meeting, the Board listened to the report from the Division of Learning Services regarding cut scores.   The Board candidly asked tough questions, seeking logical foundations for the conclusions that had been drawn by the Office of College and Career Readiness.   The Board raised issues related to the process and decided that DESE should “take another stab” at setting cut scores to ensure that there was educator “buy in.”  The Board cited a concern about the perception that educators do not trust the process.

A decision like this takes solid leadership and sound judgment by State Board members, and in particular, Board President Charlie Shields.    The State Board could readily have rubberstamped the report provided by DESE and charged ahead with cut scores despite concerns raised by professional educators.    They did not choose this path.  They prudently chose the more difficult course, presumably realizing the implications for cut scores derived from a process that lacked the confidence of professional educators.   Some inside the Department, like Dr. Chris Neale, also deserve our respect for acknowledging the process should be better handled in the future.

Professional educators, in school districts and at DESE, should now have the opportunity to work together to a greater extent in the setting of cut scores and other critical work, like MSIP 6 and dealing with the push to align state assessments with NAEP.   It will be great to see educators take full advantage of opportunities to collaborate in the important work ahead.   To do so, educators will need to roll up their sleeves, ensure that they have an in-depth common understanding of the assessment process and its implications, and lean heavily on practitioners who have been working hard to get Missouri assessments right.   Such an approach is the right course for our schools, and is truly the best way to honor the tough decision our State Board made this week.