The state this year lowered the number of answers kids needed to get right on 11 of the 12 Common Core exams, fueling concerns that rising scores were inflated.
In both English and math, students in grades three to eight had to earn fewer points to be rated “proficient” on all but one exam, Fred Smith, a former test specialist for NYC public schools, found in an analysis.
In math, the points required to pass dropped in every grade. In the biggest drop, sixth-graders had to give correct answers on only 52.2 percent of the exam, compared to 63.9 percent last year, or 11.7 percentage points less.
With that tweaking, 36.9 percent of city sixth-graders passed the math exams, a bit higher than the 35.5 percent who passed last year.
In English, the points needed to pass dropped by a range of 2.24 percent to 3.75 percent in grades three to seven. The required points increased by 4.5 percentage points in eighth grade.
State education officials said students needed fewer correct answers because it deemed the questions “slightly more difficult” than those used in past years. Only the eighth-grade English exam was “slighter easier,” so kids had to earn more points to pass.
“The number of questions needed to achieve a certain score changes from one year to the next,” said spokeswoman Emily DeSantis.
Any suggestion that the tests are easier is “flawed, irresponsible and misleading,” she said.
But experts said the tinkering, on top of fewer questions and unlimited time to finish, casts doubt on the gains that Mayor de Blasio said “represent important progress and . . . real improvements.”
This year, 38 percent of city students passed English, up from 30.4 percent last year. In math, 36.4 percent passed, up from 35.2 percent.
“Anytime you see numbers all moving in the same direction it should raise eyebrows,” said David Bloomfield, a Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center education professor.
Education advocate Leonie Haimson called it “mass delusion.”
“Its the big lie all over again,” she said, referring to a prior inflation fiasco. Between 2006 and 2009, the state lowered the points kids needed to pass the standardized exams. Then-Mayor Bloomberg hailed the rising scores as proof of great success. But experts finally found the questions had gotten easier, and the scores had falsely ballooned.