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New York City website for student test scores requires second fix after parent complaints

Sol de Zuasnabar Brebbia/Getty Images

Arturo Hale, a parent on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, was already frustrated this month over the delayed release of his son’s state test scores.

When results posted on Wednesday — more than a month after they were expected — the data looked wrong.

First, the old scoring rubric had not been updated (which the city fixed later that morning). But there also seemed to be an issue with the percentile levels, which indicate how a student’s individual scores compare to those of peers across the city.

Hale’s eighth-grade son had scored in the highest of four brackets for the math test. But the city’s data portal showed this level placed him in the 51-76th percentile citywide on the state test. That seemed low to Hale, because it meant that at least 24 percent of kids did better than his son even with his relatively high score. This didn’t seem to correspond with the state’s data of how all seventh graders performed.

“I’m annoyed that they take so much time, and they don’t even get the data right,” Hale said.

Because of a technical error, the city’s data portal was showing students’ percentiles within their community districts instead of within the entire city, said Danielle Filson, a Department of Education spokeswoman, in a statement.

The error was fixed on Friday afternoon, after Chalkbeat heard from parents about the mistake and raised the issue with the DOE.

In English, a third grader scored at a Level 3, which is the second-best score bracket and indicates proficiency, according to a screenshot of the scores that a parent sent to Chalkbeat. The city data portal, however, initially placed her in the 0-25th percentile, which suggested most of the city’s students in the daughter’s grade level had scored proficient or higher on the exam.

The error also confused Lucy Appert, who has been checking for scores since August. She is preparing her son for high school admissions. Her son’s score level rose this year for math and English, but his percentiles went down, she said.

“I just needed to understand where my kid was,” Appert said, because a lot of the schools that he will be applying to “are only going to take students with high 3s and 4s.”

“My biggest fear as a parent is that this percentile data somehow gets used and that it’s wrong,” Appert said.

On Friday afternoon, Appert said her son’s percentile appeared to be fixed.

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