1.3 The NAEP Fake Proficiency Standard... How High Stakes Tests were Designed to Fail


In this section, we will show that the real purpose of high stakes tests is to create unfair tests that are 'designed to fail” the vast majority of students who take them in order to turn the public against our public schools. This scam was done by changing the passing standard on a national test called NAEP from “Basic” which originally meant “At Grade Level” to “Proficient” which originally meant “Above Grade Level.” This simple change meant that instead of 70% of all students passing the NAEP test, only 30% of students would pass the test. No longer was a student being “at grade level” good enough. Instead, every student needed to be “above grade level.” 

We will also show that in order to prevent students from passing these new high stakes tests, called SBAC and PARCC, their creators specifically chose NAEP “hard” questions that they knew in advance that the vast majority of students would not be able to answer. The bar on the new high stakes tests has been raised so high that the new tests are deliberately designed to fail and destroy the lives of over 20 million children across America of two thirds of the 30 million kids schedule to take these fake tests in 2015. The bottom line is that billionaires want our public schools to fail so they can replace them with for-profit charter schools.  

It is vital to understand the NAEP Proficiency Standard and how NAEP “hard questions” were chosen as these are the basis of all of the current high stakes tests. These grossly unfair scams are the reason that two thirds of the students in New York State failed their Common Core tests. They are the reason two thirds of the students in Washington and 27 other States will fail their SBAC and PARCC tests in 2015. They are the reason nine out of ten GED students are currently failing their GED exams. 

The unfair NAEP Proficiency standard and the despicable use of NAEP “hard” questions are two of the main “weapons of mass deception” being used by billionaires to destroy and take over our public schools. So it is very important to understand how these two scams work. 

NAEP is the National Assessment of Educational Progress (also known as the Nations Report Card).  
The NAEP test was first administered in 1969. Federal law specifies that NAEP is voluntary for every student, school, school district, and state. However, federal law also requires all states that receive federal education funds to participate in NAEP reading and mathematics assessments at fourth and eighth grades. So NAEP is not really voluntary. NAEP results were initially used for two main purposes: monitoring trends in student achievement over time and making state-by-state comparisons. Of course, what NAEP really measures, like all high stakes tests, is the income level of parents in each of the states. It is important to note than not all students in each state take the NAEP test. Also not all grades take the NAEP test. It is only administered in Grades 4, 8 and 12. In general, the test is considered reliable for grades 4 and 8, but not for grade 12. Because 12th graders know that the results of this test “do not count” towards their graduation, 12th graders tend to fail to answer questions that they actually know the answers to. High School seniors get so fed up with taking tests, that they tend to blow off any test that does not go on their permanent record. 

Because student test scores vary too much from day to day and year to year to be an accurate measurement of any individual student, individual teacher or individual school achievement, NAEP school and student level results are never reported. At least that was how the NAEP test was sold when it first started in 1969. Today, NAEP test results, questions and standards are being used for an entirely different purpose – a purpose that they were never intended to serve. They are being used as an excuse to destroy our kids and our public schools. This is because the new Common Core high stakes tests, called SBAC and PARCC, are nothing more than NAEP tests with a thin coating of lip stick. 

NAEP Terminology... The Problem with Arbitrarily Defining the word “Proficiency”
The most controversial part of high stakes testing and the NAEP test is called the cut score. This is an arbitrarily set number which determines what percentage of students will pass a test and what percentage of students will fail a test. 


A common cut score is that a student needs to get 70% of the questions correct to pass the test. Ironically, even the legislators who demand a higher cut score often are unable to pass tests they insisted on administering to our children. 

It is important to understand that almost everything involving Common Core and other high stakes tests is completely arbitrary. The new tests are designed to fail two thirds of all children. How they are designed to fail is by manipulating the term “proficiency.” At the bottom of this scam is the misuse of “Cutoff Scores” also called “Cut Scores”. All one needs to do to increase the percentage of kids who fail a high stakes test is to increase the cut score. 

In the old days, before the billionaire takeover, teachers used a term called Mastery. The idea was that all students could pass the test. If they scored above 70% on a test, then they were at grade level and had achieved Mastery of the subject. Now, according to NAEP, there are four levels, Below Basic, Basic, Proficient and Advanced. Cut score are set so that very few kids can achieve a score of Proficient or Advanced. Basic used to be considered as passing because kids were at Grade level. Now Basic is defined as failing. Moreover, nearly all tests were teacher-created not billionaire-created. 

How Billionaires Misuse Cut Off Scores to create a Designed to Fail Test 
The usage of arbitrarily defined levels such as “proficiency,” which can mean almost anything, has been rejected by nearly everyone who understands the scientific method, including the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Education, the Center for Research in Evaluation, and Student Standards and Testing. Unfortunately, most politicians and most parents do not understand the scientific method. Thus, there is a great deal of confusion about terms such as proficiency - which is greatly worsened by the current focus on “test mania.” For example, in the 1995 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, or TIMSS, assessment, American 4th graders finished third in the world among 26 participating nations in science, but the NAEP science results from the same year stated that only 31 percent of US students were “proficient or better.” How can our students be among the best in the world in science, yet only 31% of them are “proficient” on the NAEP test? It all has to do with how NAEP defines the word “proficient.” We will therefore look at what the term “Proficient” actually mean. http://www.aasa.org/SchoolAdministratorArticle.aspx?id=5096


How Billionaires Misused the term Proficient
Achievement on NAEP tests is reported using four levels of cut scores: Below Basic, Basic, Proficient and Advanced. We will now define what each of these terms means. 

Below Basic (also known as Level 1) is a student who is below grade level in a particular subject. In normal school language, this would be a student who would get a D or an F. The cut scores for this group are arbitrarily set at about 30% to 40% of all students. This is extremely controversial and has led to the misleading claim that “40% of all students in the US are “failing.” In fact, rarely do 40% of any group of students fail any particular course. More commonly, about 10% of students fail any given course. Below is a graph showing the 2005 Grade 8 Math NAEP scores for a few states. 


You can see that in some states, like California, half of the students were “Below Basic” while in Colorado, only 31 percent were below basic. The average score in California was 207 and the average score in Colorado was 224. Put another way, for every ten questions the Colorado students answered correctly, the California students answered nine of those same questions correctly. With about 50 math questions on the test, the Colorado “Basic” students got about 20 correct and the California students got about 18 correct. The dividing line in the table above or the cut score was 215. However, if the cut score had been lowered a mere ten percent to 200, allowing 2 more wrong answers, then the failure rate would have been cut in half. Less than 10% of the kids in Colorado would have failed the test and only 20% of the kids in California would have failed the test. The key fact to understand is that the percentage of kids who fail the NAEP test – or any other high stakes test - is not determined by the kids. It is determined by the person who sets the Cut Score. 

Since the designers of the NAEP test set the cut score so that 40% would fail, then 40% of the students failed. What is ironic about this is that international tests have placed US students as Number One in the world on Algebra tests! The problem is not with US kids, it is with the setting of the cut scores of the NAEP test. The billionaires want you to believe our kids are failing so they can take over our public schools. Any test that is designed to fail 40% to 70% of the students that take it is simply an unfair test. 

Basic (also known as Level 2) means partial mastery of a subject in that a student has learned most but not all of the NAEP standards for their grade. In normal school language, this is a student who is at “grade level” and would get a passing letter grade of C. The cut score for this group is arbitrarily set for about 30% to 40% of all students. This translates into an actual score of 260 out of 500 for 8th grade Math. Thus, by design, 70% of all students will get either a C, D or F on the NAEP test. While Basic would be good enough to pass any subject or any grade in school during the past 100 years, Basic is not good enough for the billionaires pushing Common Core. Instead, the billionaires insist on a standard that no group of students in any nation has ever achieved... Namely that “All students must be proficient.” This is why 70% of all students will fail Common Core tests. It is because the test is designed to fail 70% of all students. 

Proficient (also known as Level 3) means almost complete mastery of a subject in that a student has learned nearly all of the NAEP (or Common Core) standards for that grade. In normal school language, this is a student who would get a letter grade of B or A. The cut score for this group is arbitrarily set for about 20% of all students. This translates into an actual score of 300 out of 500 for the NAEP 8th grade Math test. Even though US students are among the top performing students in the world on Algebra tests, only 20% to 30% of them will be rated as proficient on the NEAP or Common Core tests because that is how the test cut scores were set. The NAEP Cut Scores were set so that anyone other than a B or A student will fail the test. 

Advanced (also known as Level 4) means complete mastery of a subject in that a student has learned all of the NAEP standards for that grade and is in the top 10% of all students. In normal school language, this is a student who would certainly get a letter grade of A+. The cut score for this group is arbitrarily set for about 10% of all students. This translates into an actual score of 300 out of 500 for 4th grade and 480 out of 500 for 8th grade. 

The problem with No Child Left Behind (passed by Bush 2) and Race to the Top (passed by Obama) is that they both require that “all students to be proficient.” This is like requiring that all students get either a B or an A in school. Any school with a single C or D student is a failing school. This is why every school in every state is a failing school under No Child Left Untested. The law was designed to label every school in every state to be a failure. Put another way, it is like requiring that “all students be above average.” This is magical thinking which only happens in imaginary places like Lake Woebegone. 

Who set these ridiculously high cut scores? 
The NAGB (or National Assessment Governing Board, a group that oversees the NAEP) subcontracts achievement level setting to a private contractor called the American College Testing, Inc. (ACT). ACT set cut scores so high that very few students scored at or above the proficient level and few students scored at or above the Advanced level. Act, Inc and the Act Foundation have received almost $2 million from the Gates Foundation to “implement the Rigor and Readiness initiative.” ACT is hardly an unbiased source. Previously, the NAGB had outsourced the creation of math items to the College Board, makers of the SAT and AP exams and exam questions.  The College Board (aka College Entrance Examination Board) is also a private corporation that has received millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation. The same scam artists who ran ACT and the College Board later went on to write a precursor to the Common Core called the American Diploma Project (ADP) and then wrote the Common Core standards and tests. This is why there is such a close relationship between the NAEP tests and terms and the Common Core tests and terms. 
The National Governors Association, which owns the copyright on Common Core had been reluctant to reveal the members of the Standards Work Groups. However, in July 2009, it did so. The members of the “work” groups chiefly represented three agencies: Achieve, ACT, and College Board. Here is a quote from the NGA: “The initiative is being jointly led by the NGA Center and CCSSO [Council of State School Officers] in partnership with Achieve, Inc, ACT and the College Board.”

No private agency should be allowed to set cut scores for all US children. One reason why parents in New York refused to accept the results of the Common Core PARCC test was that they correctly believed it was not reasonable to give students a test where 70% of the students failed the test. Parents might be willing to believe that 20% of students are failures. But they will never believe that 70% of students are failures. Instead, they will rightly conclude the problem is not with their child, the problem is with the test. 

How do State Proficiency Standards Compare to the NAEP Proficiency Standard? 
Recall that on 8th Grade math, a NAEP score of 260 is “Basic” or “At Grade Level” and a NAEP score of 300 is “Proficient.” NAEP defines “At Grade Level” and “Proficient” as being two different things. However, for the past 100 years, nearly all States have defined the words “proficient” and being “At Grade Level” as the same thing! 

This change in the meaning of the word “Proficient” is behind the Common Core scam.  It is therefore not surprising that nearly all States have learning standards set at “Basic” or “At Grade Level.” The following chart and graph compare the various State Proficiency Scales to the NAEP Basic and Proficiency Scale for 8th grade math. 


Source: Mapping State Proficiency Standards onto the NAEP Scales

In grade 8 mathematics, 12 of 49 states included in the analysis set standards that were lower than the Basic performance on NAEP, 36 were in the NAEP Basic range, and one in the Proficient range.  Below is a graph of the above data:

33 States properly viewed “Proficiency” as being at a “Basic” level of competency or being a student being “At Grade Level.” An average 8th Grade Math score of 260 to 270 was considered good enough to pass to the next grade and thus 70% or more of all students were allowed to pass to the next grade and/or graduate from high school. There were 11 States that allowed an even lower score of 240 to 250 to be considered “Proficient” or passing their State's high stakes 8th Grade math test. Only one State (Tennessee) allowed an extremely low score of 230 to be labeled “Proficient.” Only one State (Massachusetts) required a score of 300 to be labeled “Proficient.” 

NAEP Test Scores are related to the Income Level of the Parents
NAEP scores show a clear relationship to the poverty level of different States. Here is a graph of NAEP scores for 4th and 8th Graders showing that the poorest kids score much worse on the NAEP test than the richest kids. The poor kids got a 250 on the NAEP 8th Grade test while the rich kids got a 275. Like all other high stakes tests, what NAEP is really measuring is the income of the parents. 

The following chart are States listed in the order of child poverty. States with the highest child poverty rates (red bars) also have the lowest NAEP test scores (green bars). 

NAEP 2003 Scores 8th Grade Math Test, using At or Above Basic as a Passing Score. If billionaires really wanted to increase student test scores, they should focus on reducing the childhood poverty rate by making sure that every parent had a good job and every child had a stable home and adequate food. 

Our kids are actually doing much better on math than past generations
The billionaire controlled media has issued a lot of false claims that “our schools are failing.” This is a lie. In fact, the test scores of American students have been rising consistently for the past 30 years. For example, the National Assessment of Educational Progress Long Term Trend test has been administered in the US since the 1970s. For the past 20 years, the NAEP trend assessment (also called the NAEP LTT) has used nearly the same framework and the same test questions. It is therefore the closest thing we have to an “apples to apples” comparison. The average score for 13 year olds (8th graders) was 265 in 1978. It rose to 273 by 1998. It is currently at 285. Since 10 points on the NAEP math test scale is a rise of about one grade level, 13 year old students in the US today have math skills that are about one full grade level above 13 year olds in 1998 and about two full grade levels above 13 year olds in 1978. 

In other words, an 8th Grader today performs about as well on the NAEP math test as a 10th grader did in 1978. Clearly students are doing better in math today than they were doing 20 years ago. But you would never know it from the billionaire controlled media. Source: NAEP Nation Report Card http://nationsreportcard.gov/ltt_2012/age13m.aspx

NAEP 8th Grade Math Scores have increased gradually


How many students would pass if every State changed to the NAEP/Common Core Definition of Proficiency?
We can tell this simply by comparing the NAEP Basic and Proficiency ratios for the past several years. The percent of 4th Graders who would have “passed the NAEP Math test” if the standard was set for “NAEP Basic” or “At Grade Level” has been about 82% for the past several years. However, the percent of 4th graders who “pass the NAEP Math test” if the standard is set at “NAEP Proficient” is only about 40%. Therefore, the percentage of students who fail the CCSS test will be about 40% higher than the percent of students who passed previous non-CCSS high stakes tests.  http://www.nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2013/files/Results_Appendix_Math.pdf

The switch to the “NAEP CCSS Proficiency Standard” instead of the “NAEP Basic At Grade Level” Standard will harm poor students much more than it will harm wealthy students. Using “NAEP Basic” as a passing grade, 73% of 4th Grade students eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch passed the NEAP test and 93% of those not eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch passed the test – a difference of 20%. Using “NAEP Proficient” as a passing grade, only 25% of students eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch would pass the test while 60% of those not eligible for free and reduced lunch would still pass the test – a difference of 35%. Therefore switching to the NEAP CCSS Proficiency standard for a passing score will disproportionally harm low income 4th Grade students. 

The 8th grade math test shows a similar effect. The percent of 8th Graders who “passed the NAEP Math test” if the standard was set for “NAEP Basic” or At Grade Level has been about 75% for the past several years. However, the percent of 8th graders who “pass the NAEP Math test” if the standard was set at “NAEP Proficient” was only about 35% for the past several years. Therefore, the percentage of students who fail the CCSS test will be about 40% higher than the percent of students who passed previous non-CCSS high stakes tests. 

Using “NAEP Basic” as a passing grade, 60% of 8th Grade students eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch passed the NEAP test and 86% of those not eligible passed the test – a difference of 26%. However, using “NAEP Proficient” as a passing grade, only 20% of 8th Grade students eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch would pass the test while 50% of those not eligible for free and reduced lunch would still pass the test – a difference of 30%. Therefore switching to the NEAP CCSS Proficiency standard to define a passing score will disproportionally harm low income 8th Grade students. Below is a graph of the above data. 


It should therefore come as no surprise that in New York State after 2 years of using Common Core/NEAP Proficient Cut Scores, the average pass rate of their new CCSS high stakes test was only 35%. The test was designed so that only 35% of students could pass it. Similarly, on November 17, 2014, the SBAC CCSS high stakes test scam artists released their cut scores for the 2015 SBAC test that will be taken by millions of students in 17 States around the nation in 2015. (Apparently 5 of the 22 SBAC States will not be using the SBAC test in 2015). 

Here is a quote from their press release: “Smarter Balanced estimates that the percentage of students who would have scored “Level 3 or higher” in math ranged from 32 percent in Grade 8 to 39 percent in Grade 3. See the charts below for further details.”

Note that the percent pass rate predicted by the SBAC scam artists is nearly identical to the pass rate for using the NEAP Proficiency standard. We will look at actual test items shortly to better understand how this scam works. Here is the chart that came with the SBAC press release: 


Only one third of all students will pass the 2015 Common Core SBAC Math test. The following is a more understandable chart showing the percent of students who will pass the 2015 SBAC test at various grade levels. 


Only 4 in 10 students will pass the 2015 Common Core SBAC English Test. 


Why Common Core tests are much worse than the prior High Stakes Tests
Common Core and the tests connected to it will artificially cause test scores to collapse. Common Core standards and Common Core tests (SBAC and PARCC) will label many more children as "failures" who are not failures at all. Most students, and especially poor students, will be stigmatized by “designed to fail” tests aligned with an absurd standard of proficiency (aligned with NAEP proficiency, which is equivalent to an A). 

How do we solve this confusion about the term Proficient?
Some have suggested changing the word “Basic” to “At Grade Level” so that more people would understand that NAEP Basic actually means a passing grade. This would automatically raise the percentage of passing students so that about 70% of all students would pass.  However, we would still be left with deeply flawed tests that measure the income level of the parents of a student rather than the actual ability of the student. The real solution is to understand that high stakes tests are harmful to students because they do not accurately measure what a student knows or can do. We simply need to eliminate all high stakes tests including not only Common Core tests, but also the NAEP test, the SAT Test, the ACT test, the AP tests and the entire extremely corrupt and dishonest high stakes testing industry. Since billionaires currently control our elections, it is doubtful that we can get rid of all high stakes tests in the near future. Another alternative would be to insist on “fair standards” for high stakes tests. This would include setting the cut score for Advanced so that at least 10% of all students could get a score of Advanced or A. The cut score for Proficient or B should be set so that at least 30% of all students could get a B or an A. The cut score for Basic or At Grade Level should be set so that at least 90% of all students could get a C or passing grade. This would mean that only 10% of all students would have to suffer the embarrassment and shame of being labeled “failing students” and in need of remedial assistance. 

Drill and Kill Fake Tests... All kids must score above average
In Lake Woebegone, all kids may be above average. But in the real world, it is not statistically possible for all kids to be above average. Thus, high stakes tests are designed to fail. 

How NEAP was Transformed into SBAC and PARCC
While we will look at the history of Common Core standards in the next chapter, we will look at the two Common Core high stakes tests, SBAC and PARCC here. This is because these two tests were adapted from the NAEP tests. 

SBAC supposedly stands for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. In fact, it can be more accurately thought of as the Scam Betrayal Against Children Test. While the marketing department of the billionaires like to call us to call this the Smarter Balanced test, we will simply call it the SBAC test. SBAC is one of two options for the Common Core High Stakes Test. The other is PARCC (see below). SBAC is a computerized “adaptive” test meaning that if a student gets a question correct, the test changes and the next question is harder. Thus, there is no way to statistically or scientifically determine its reliability and/or validity.  In addition, it is supposedly based on Common Core national standards. However, there is no evidence that it actually is based on anything other than maximizing corporate profits while failing as many students as possible. 

PARCC supposedly stands for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test. In fact, it can be more accurately described as the Pretty Awful and Ridiculous Common Core Test. This is an awful test that has already failed 60% of the students in Kentucky and 70% of the students in New York. A multinational corporation called Pearson is the sole vendor for PARCC which is currently being used as the official Common Core High Stakes test in 13 states. PARCC is being used in States that wanted a lower cost test than the SBAC tests and States that understood the insanity of trying to analyze a computerized adaptive test. In fact, both tests were so horribly designed that there is little difference between them. They were both deliberately designed to fail as many kids as possible. 

Despite the fact that both of these tests basically copied the NAEP test, Arne Duncan gave private corporations $360 million in federal funds to develop these two tests. 

Design Flaws of the SBAC Adaptive Test
The chief difference between the two tests is that he SBAC test is an “adaptive” test while PARCC is not. With PARCC, all students receive about the same types of questions. Thus, the number of correct answers is relevant. However, “adaptive” means that if a student gets the first few answers on the test right, the computer adapts and gives the student progressively harder questions until the computer finds questions that the student misses. While this may seem like a good idea, it is actually horrible for students in that there is no way for any student to feel a sense of mastery and accomplishment by getting most of the questions right. Therefore it lowers the self esteem of all students. 

Equally important, there is no way to statistically and/or scientifically analyze individual questions to determine if they are fair questions – or even to know what percent of students would get the question correct – since not all students are given the same questions! 

There is a basic principle of science that conclusions require the limiting of variables. Since the SBAC test has over 42,000 possible questions given in an infinitely large number of possible combinations, child development researchers cannot analyze SBAC questions the way we can analyze NAEP questions or even PARCC questions (both of which are traditional “fixed question” tests). Even if one supports Common Core, at the very least Washington State should dump the SBAC test and use the PARCC test – and then release the results of the correct percentage for every PARCC question. This will allow researchers to determine which PARCC questions are fair questions and which are not. 

A final drawback of adaptive tests is that many students have figured out how to game the test. If they deliberately miss the first two questions, then their remaining questions are much easier and they end up getting a higher total score on the test. None of this matters to the billionaires. All that matters is to create a test that is impossible for parents to understand and impossible for researchers to analyze. If either parents or researchers were ever able to figure out what was going on, they would realize that the test was simply an unfair test and demand that the whole process be terminated. 

Looking at Individual Test Questions to Understand How SBAC and PARCC Can Know in Advance How Many Students will fail their tests
We will next look at individual test questions to better understand how high stakes tests can be constructed to pass or fail whatever percentage of students the creators of the test want to fail. With the SBAC and PARCC math tests, increasing the failure rate is done by increasing the number of “hard” questions. NAEP math questions have been studied for more than 20 years. We therefore know in advance what percent of students can answer any particular question! To better understand the relationship between Common Core High Stakes tests and the NAEP test, we will compare some actual math questions from both tests. 

How difficult are NAEP Questions?
In addition to understanding NAEP basic versus proficiency ratings, it is important for parents to understand that NAEP questions are statistically divided into three groups, Easy, Medium and Hard. The reason this is important is because how billionaires make tests harder is simply by reducing the number of NAEP medium questions on the SBAC and PARCC test and increasing the number of NAEP hard questions. 

The makers of the SBAC and PARCC and GED tests claim that they have to ask harder questions in order to measure the new Common Core standards. But this claim is not true. With any standard, one can ask an easy, a medium or a hard question depending on the wording of the question. Once you understand and can tell the difference between Easy, Medium and Hard questions, it becomes much easier to understand how billionaires are pulling off the SBAC and PARCC high failure” rates! So let's review the differences between NAEP Easy, Medium and Hard questions. 

Easy Questions mean that about three in four students answered the question correctly on past tests. Put another way, Basic, Proficient and Advanced students can answer these “Easy” questions, but Below Basic students generally do not. 

Medium Questions mean that about half of all students can answer the question correctly. Put another way, Proficient and Advanced students can answer these questions, but Basic and Below Basic students generally do not. 

Hard Questions mean that about one in four students can answer the question correctly. Put another way, Advanced students can answer these questions, but Proficient, Basic and Below Basic students generally do not. 

Here is the most shocking fact of all: If the goal of Common Core was to identify NAEP “proficient” students, then the average question on a Common Core test (SBAC and PARCC) would be similar to the Medium questions on the NAEP test. But as we will show below, the average question on the Common Core test is nearly identical to the NAEP hard questions! Therefore, those who pass Common Core tests are not merely proficient, they are NAEP advanced students! 

Put another way, while NAEP tests are unfair and label too many students as failures, the Common Core tests are much more unfair, and label even more students has failures. Every trick in the book has been used to get as many students as possible to fail the Common Core tests. That is why parents, teachers and students say that “Common Core tests are designed to fail.” 

Comparing the 2014 SBAC math test to the 2013 NEAP Math Test
Now that we have a better understanding of  the NAEP test terminology, we will compare a new SBAC Common Core high stakes 8th Grade Math Test, to the national NAEP 8th Grade Math test. The reason we have chosen SBAC is that this test was “field tested” in many school districts in Washington State in May 2014 (including my 8th grade daughter's school district). The SBAC test will be required for all school districts in Washington State and 17 other States in the coming year. Unlike the other Common Core test, called PARCC,  which has been tested and failed 60% of all students in Kentucky and 70% of all students in New York, there is currently very little information on the difficulty of SBAC test questions. We will therefore attempt to objectively assess the difficulty of SBAC 8th grade math test questions by comparing them to National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 8th grade math test questions. 

Many parents and teachers mistakenly assume that Common Core tests are much harder than former high stakes tests because Common Core standards are mistakenly believed to be higher than prior standards. But as we will show here, Common Core tests have almost nothing to do with Common Core standards. Instead, Common Core has been used as an excuse to artificially make tests that are much harder to pass. And that is the real purpose of Common Core... to change to unfair tests that are 'designed to fail” the vast majority of students who take them. The NAEP test is the most well researched math test in the US. It has been offered annually to millions of students across the US since the later 1970s. As we described above, its math question database is divided by grade into three types of questions called Easy Medium and Hard questions. The Easy questions can be answered by about three in four students, the Medium questions can be answered by about half of the students and the Hard questions can be answered by less than one in four students. The NAEP database allows us to determine the approximate level of difficulty of the new SBAC Common Core math questions. 

Step One... Get your feet wet by taking the SBAC 8th Grade Sample Test
Studies have shown that people think they can answer many more math questions than they can really answer and that people think math questions are easier than they actually are. So it is important at this point that you go online and complete the SBAC 8th grade practice math test above – without looking at the answer sheet first. Then write down your actual score before reading the next article. Keep in mind that you need to get about 18 of the 25 questions correct in order to pass the test. So you are not allowed to miss more than 7 questions. When you are done, write down how many you got right. After you have finished the SBAC one hour sample test, and have recorded your score, you are ready to read the next section. The SBAC 8th Grade sample test and its answer sheet are available online at http://sbac.portal.airast.org/practice-test/

Click on Student Interface and Training Tests. Then click OK. Then click Sign In. Then select the 8th Grade. Then click Yes. Then click State G8 Math Practice Test. Then click Select. Then click Yes, Start My Test. 


Then click Begin Test Now. There are 25 Questions in the SBAC Grade 8 Practice  Math Test. The scoring guides for all of the SBAC practice tests are at the following link. 

The 8th Grade Practice Test and Scoring Guide is also available as a PDF at the following link in case you want to print it out and give it to your legislators. 

This 28 page PDF includes all 25 questions and their correct answers. However, it is not as difficult as the online version because one does not have to learn how to manipulate the SBAC interface with the PDF version. Even my rather smart 8th grade daughter had problems with the SBAC computer interface. Another major difference between the Sample test and the real test is that the real test is “adaptive” meaning that if you get a correct answer to one question, the next question is harder. Finally, the Sample test is only 25 questions and takes about one hour to complete while the real test has more than 50 NAEP Hard questions and takes two hours for 8th grade students to complete – if they are able to complete it at all. 

If a person designed a building to fail and the building failed and several people were killed, wouldn't this person be sent to prison – or at least lose their license for professional negligence? But Pearson has created a test designed to fail struggling students and destroys the lives of a half million young adults seeking a GED every year and they are rewarded with billions of dollars in government contracts and millions of dollars in grants from the Gates Foundation. 

Step 2: Examine the NEAP 8th Grade Math Test Questions 
Now that you have completed the SBAC 8th Grade Math Practice Test, we will compare these questions to the 25 hardest NEAP 8th Grade Math questions by going to the new NAEP Home page.  http://nationsreportcard.gov/


Then click on Data Tools in the left side menu. Then click on Question Tool. Then click on Questions Tool again. Then click on Main NAEP Mathematics. For Grade, uncheck Grades 4 and 12 to only select Grade 8 questions. For Type select Multiple and Short. For Difficulty, uncheck Easy and Medium to only select Hard questions. (You can later check just the Easy or Medium box to better understand what NAEP Easy and Medium questions look like). 


This will place 111 Hard 8th grade questions in the Workspace. 


Click on Add All Questions. This will transfer all 111 questions to My Workspace. Then click on My Workspace.


Select all four boxes in Select Content. Then click on HTML to view the questions in a web browser. We will examine these 111 questions and look for the 25 most difficult questions on this NAEP test (questions in which less than 25% of students were able to answer the question correctly) in order to make comparisons to the 25 SBAC questions in order to assess the difficulty of the SBAC questions and predict the percentage of 8th graders that will be able to pass the SBAC test. 

The first NAEP 8th grade “hard” question is about the slope of a function. 
Q1: In which of the following equations does the value of y increase by 6 units when x increases by 2 units? 

a) y = 3x     b) y = 4x    c) y = 6x     d) y = 4x + 2     e) y = 6x + 2

The correct answer is A. Only 20% of all US 8th graders were able to get this question correct. One might claim that American 8th graders do poorly in Algebra. However, as we noted previously, they do better on Algebra tests than almost any nation on earth. It is likely that less than 20% of 8th graders around the world could answer this question. Thus, algebra slope questions are just hard questions for 8th graders because “slope” is an abstract concept. If you look at the next 24 NAEP “hard” questions, you will see that only one of them involves slope. By contrast, out of the 25 SBAC 8th grade math questions, 5 of them deal with slope. This has nothing to do with Common Core standards because Common Core does not emphasis the slope of the function any differently than the current standards. So what is the purpose of having 5 out of the 25 SBAC questions involve slope? Could it be that the authors of the SBAC test know that only 20% of all US 8th graders can answer slope questions – and thus they can create a test which 80% of students will fail these five slope questions? 

Of the 25 questions on the SBAC 8th Grade Practice Math test, 15 of them were “NAEP” hard questions, leaving only 10 questions that were NAEP medium and easy questions that the majority of 8th graders could answer correctly. 

We have also analyzed the recently released NY PARCC test questions and found a similar disturbing trend... Both SBAC and PARCC appear to have deliberately chose NAEP “hard” questions in order to increase the failure rates on these new Common Core tests. If you go back and look at NAEP “Medium” and “Easy” questions, you will see that they tend to be different from typical SBAC and PARCC questions. 

Now that we understand how the new Common Core SBAC and PARCC tests were deliberately designed to fail, in the next section, we will look at one of the greatest crimes ever inflicted on our children, a federal law called “No Child Left Behind” or simply NCLB.