Moore Schools alarmed by “peculiarities” in writing tests

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MOORE, Okla. - Elementary principals in Moore say they found some peculiarities in their students' writing scores.

"I got a phone call from a few elementary principals who said that their teachers were noticing some peculiarities about the writing scores.  What we found is that a majority of their students have the same score all the way across," Dr. Rick Cobb, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Writing for Moore Public Schools said.

Cobb said his students' scores on the CTB/McGraw-Hill 5th and 8th grade writing tests are disturbing.

Moore Public Schools aren't the only school district that has noticed the issue. Norman, Putnam City, and Mustang are are also seeing odd scores from the tests.

"Rarely do you see the students of the same score all the way across," Cobb said.

The writing tests are broken down into five categories graded by two separate people. Cobb say 36 is the minimum score to pass and was shocked to learn the results of one school.

"I think one of the principals told me that about 40% of her students had that exact score and that nobody had a 36, so there is a lot of confusion about how the formula was applied," Cobb said.

Cobb found the results so alarming he sent the Department of Education a letter asking for a review of the students' responses.  He cited several problems with the scoring and asked the Department to help with the $125 fee to re-score each test.

"The cost is prohibitive," Cobb said.  "One hundred fifty tests being re-scored would be close to $20,000, and there aren't a lot of school districts that have that kind of money available to take a chance on re-scoring."

After a review the State Superintendent sent a response agreeing with the score process saying, "the majority of the documents merited all five traits receiving two points."

"I really thought the State board could have shown themselves to be an advocate for us or school districts like us," Cobb said.

Moore Public Schools hope to have a decision about what to do by the end of June.

State Superintendent Janet Barresi announced she won't be renewing the CTB/McGraw Hill contract for 2015.

For more information on student testing visit Oklahoma's State Department of Education website.

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