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Regents Recap — January 2013: Recycled Problems

Here is another installment in my series reviewing the NY State Regents exams in mathematics.

I reuse problems on tests all the time.  I’m sure every teacher does.  Sometimes I’ll change a number or two, sometimes I’ll change what the question asks for, or sometimes I’ll use the problem just as it is.

But I’m not writing tests for thousands of students state-wide, and my tests don’t determine whether or not students graduate, teachers keep their jobs, or schools remain open.

So it seems reasonable to ask if reusing problems on high-stakes exams, like the Regents, is an appropriate practice.

Compare number 38 from the January 2013 Algebra 2 / Trig exam

Regents 2013 January AT 38

with number 27 from the 2005 Math B exam.

Regents 2013 January Math B 27And one more important difference between my tests and these standardized tests:  I don’t pay millions of dollars to educational specialists to develop my exams.

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2 Comments

  1. Eric says:

    While I see your point, the Regents exams are written by NYS teachers and compiled by a company. So, while some of those production costs certainly go to a company the bulk of the creation money is going to teachers. Much differently than the 3-8 testing which is entirely produced by either CTB or Pearson depending on the year. I would argue that we would better exams at high school if we went to a company.

    • MrHonner says:

      Eric-

      I’m not that familiar with the logistics of how the Regents get put together, but I be shocked if the majority of the millions of dollars that gets spent on “educational specialists” went to classroom teachers.

      An I’m not sure I believe that private companies make better exams. And what really disturbs me is that, generally speaking testing companies aren’t required to release their exams for public scrutiny, which allows them to avoid the accountability the rest of us face.

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