# How Achievement Scores Work

How Achievement Scores Work

Overview:

In Florida, we use Common Core, and our mandated end of the year diagnostic is called the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA). Student achievement is obtained by him/her scoring a level 3 or better on this exam. These scores stay on their records, dictate some of the classes they will take, and sometimes, determine whether or not they will graduate.

The Test:

For math, the test consists of 3 sections, taken on two days, totaling between 60 and 70 questions. These questions are designed to cover the standards that the FLDOE says should be covered in that grade level.

Scoring:

Each question is given a weight, based on how many students correctly answered it.

For example, if 10% of the students in Florida correctly answered question 1, then it must have been a tough one, and is thus worth many points. However, if 90% of the students correctly answered question 2, it must have been easy, and is thus not worth many points.

Levels:

The scores are than arranged from high to low, and ‘cut scores’ are chosen to divide the students into 5 levels (five being the highest).

A level 3 or better is considered ‘on grade level.’ We used to call it ‘proficient,’ but the FLDOE just changed that terminology to ‘sufficient.’ Regardless of the title, students must be a 3 or better to be considered on grade level – and to pass any test that is mandatory (like the Algebra End of Course Exam).

Curving the Test

The goal is for the 5 levels to arrange like a bell curve.

However, in 2015 the commissioner recommended that the percentages be divided in a way that more heavily weights the level 1’s than the level 5’s (see chart below). You will also notice that the commissioner has pre-determined what percentage of the students score a level 3 or better (which is considered passing).

Thus your student’s score, and subsequently the level earned, is determined not by how many right and wrong he/she achieves, but rather, what percentile his/her score falls in when compared to the rest of the students who take the test.

Take Aways:

• For a student to earn a level 3 or better, they must earn more points than other students in the state, not get a certain percentage correct. Thus, they don’t need to be the ‘cream of the crop,’ merely, the “Cream of the Crap.”
• The goal is not to master the material, just to master it better more of it than 50% of the students in the state.
• A level 3 (the achievement level) is generally obtained by the student getting around 50% of the questions correct. Thus, you should not feel obligated to get all of your students through all of the material in a year.
• Make sure your students master the content before moving onto the next.