# Writing Score > 41?

Discussion in 'Basic Skills Tests' started by Malcolm, Sep 3, 2005.

1. ### MalcolmEnthusiast

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Sep 3, 2005

Anybody here get, or know anyone who got, higher than 41 on the writing sectioni?

3. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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Sep 4, 2005

For the August 13 administration, or generally?

4. ### HotMathTeacherRookie

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Sep 4, 2005

I will let you know on Sept. 6, when my score is released via web.

5. ### MalcolmEnthusiast

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I am intestested in the general results. Everyone I have every asked got a 41. I know my sample is small and probably biased somehow, but I would have thought someone would have passed with a higher score. It made me wonder if the scorers tended, or were instructed, to give a 3 in each area to an acceptable response, which from what I have read results in a scaled score of 41, without really bothering to differentiate.

6. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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I can't provide statistics, but I certainly know of people who've scored more than 41 points, and sometimes quite a bit more. The CBEST essay tasks and rubric favor people who can simultaneously write really structured essays AND use really vivid descriptive language - many people can manage one of those tasks but not both. Similarly, many people are comfortable with either the persuasive essay or the personal narrative but not both, or at least not both in a limited amount of time.

In fact, it's quite probable that earning 3's across the board (that is, on both readings of each essay) would result in a score higher than 41: bear in mind that 3 is 75% of 4 (the maximum score per essay), which ought to produce a scaled score closer to 60 on the CBEST scale, which tops out at 80, than to 41.

7. ### cbickleyRookie

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I got a 53 and I know someone who got a 60 on the written. I still don't understand the whole scaling thing though.

I think the biggest challenge for me was hand writing and composing it all. I'm so used to cut and paste and stream of consciousness writing on the computer that it's a challenge to put it all in correctly the first time! So use the booklet to outline your thoughts first. Best of luck.

8. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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The scaled scoring is intended to accommodate the fact that All Questions Are Not Created Equal - as anyone who's ever tried writing test questions has discovered, it's VERY hard to write questions that are of exactly equal difficulty, so the algorithm for converting raw scores to scaled ones includes a certain amount of statistical fudging. I don't understand it in detail either, but I'm aware that the fudging happens, and it's the best explanation that comes to hand for some of the oddities of scoring.

The essays may actually be the most straightforward in terms of raw-to-scaled conversion, though the complication here is that you can perfectly well not get exactly the same score on one of your essays from both scorers. But, cbickley, I'd guess you scored 10 to 11 raw points - most probably 3's and 2's, though 4, 3, 2, 2 would also do the job.

9. ### MalcolmEnthusiast

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I am glad to hear that some folks actually scored better than 41. I have lots of writing experience and consider myself better than most at it. But it is business and technical writing, not the kind of 5 paragraph expositive and emotive writing tested on CBEST. I got a 41 going in without any preparation and was satisfied with that. I figured that better prepared folks ought to do better. Looks I just hadn't run into any of them until now.

I am pretty sure about all 3s (or the equivalent) translating to a 41 scaled score. That information came out of a document I read once related to a lawsuit in California challenging CBEST because it allegedly discriminated against certain protected groups of test takers. The test was found not to discriminate inappropriately. That is, although certain groups had a passing rate significantly below others, it was found that what was being tested was essential to being qualified to teach. So we still have CBEST.

All 3s translating into a 41 scaled scored doesn'g say a thing about any other score. For instance, getting a scaled score of 60 would not necessarily mean raw scores averaging 3.5. I would guess that the folks at NES Inc. holistically weight the raw scores to come up with a distribution of scores that resembles that of the other two parts of the test, or more likely weight each test holistically to come up with some particular distribution. By doing this, they could ensure that the three parts of CBEST carry equal weight. For all we know, the weighting may even vary from administration to administration of the test. But we'll never know precisley what they do. And it may be better that we don't.

10. ### jfsRookie

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For what its worth, my wife just got her results from the August test and her writing score was 53. I took the test about 8 years ago and scored a 75 on the written section. Perhaps the scoring system has changed since then.

11. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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It turns out that people who write really well often don't score as high as they expect to on CBEST. I can think of a number of reasons why this might be so; for one thing, really fluent writers aren't necessarily as careful with structure as might most burnish their scores (though the tradeoff is that they're generally writing something more interesting). Let me assure everyone, though, that practically no one cares whether a credential candidate aces the exam or merely does moderately well: the important thing is simply to pass.

12. ### HotMathTeacherRookie

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Sep 6, 2005

Just got my score via the internet. Mine was a 63, woo hoo!

13. ### MalcolmEnthusiast

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Sep 6, 2005

Congratulations on the 63!

14. ### pammyloveRookie

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I got a 47, which was good enough to have my WPE waived at Cal State.

Wow, a 63? Good job!

15. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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HotMath and Pam, well done! Goes to show in part that logical thinking IS a useful part of a writer's toolkit. If I held you both up as examples,...

... would you ever forgive me?

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Sep 10, 2005

Malcolm I scored a 41 and like you had not done any preparation and have spent most of my life in pursuits of a technical nature.

In fact I was absurdly confident of the CBEST and grossly negligent on my performance, needless to say I passed.

I wonder if you or anyone else could tell me under what circumstances someone might take the CBEST only. I mean what profession requires a CBEST score alone?

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18. ### MalcolmEnthusiast

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In California you just need CBEST and a baccalaureate for a substitute permit. You are limited to 30 days for any one teacher, but you can substitute every day. And some people do, or close to it. Also, there are special subject credentials that don't require another exam but have their own special requirements like driver training, ROTC, etc. And of course, if you can prove subject matter competence in things like math, etc. by appropriate course work, you don't need to take CSET or the like for a single subject credential.

19. ### dougd46Rookie

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Malcom, I took the CBEST 3 years ago and passed the first time with no preparation, not sure how you prepare for that kind of a general skills test... and I felt very good about the writing part and yes I got 41. 61 in Math and 80 in Reading for what ever thats worth. I have no idea how they came up with these grades or what they really mean

20. ### MalcolmEnthusiast

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Like you, I got an 80 in reading. I got a 75 in math and know exactly where I lost the points because of what I considered badly constructed questions. Give me a chance to guess at the answer and I will guess wrong.

Apparently all passing grades are equivalent as far as California and NES are concerned. If you managed to pull together a passing grade from the three sections (123 total out of 240) you are adequately qualified. Effectively, all it does is set a lower floor and thin out the competition for teaching positions that (with the exception of subjects like math, science, etc.) there are more than sufficient qualified candidates.

Based on what I saw when I took it earlier this year, IMHO anyone who does not know enough to pass CBEST the first time, unprepared, should not be teaching. They should be back in school getting educated. Ofcourse, that shows that I am totally out of touch with reality, because there are apparently lots of qualified teachers out there who had, or are having, trouble with it. Some people have trouble with written exams, some people just tense up and get flustered, and lots of other reasons... And it sure doesn't say a thing about whether someone can teach.

21. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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From the point of view of credentialing agencies and districts and such, ALL the teacher tests are about setting a floor, and that most emphatically includes subject knowledge tests like CSET. And the tests certainly don't say anything about whether a person can teach, nor do they purport to. In other states, some written tests DO include questions about the practice of teaching. I assume the omission in California is intentional; the assumptions behind it may well be (a) that successful completion of a credential program is a better guarantor of good teaching than is a pencil and paper test and (b) that the proper role of a credential program is NOT to impart subject area knowledge.

I'd like to suggest another function of teacher tests that's likely to be much more useful to the future teacher, and that is that skills tests like CBEST and knowledge tests like CSET provide a powerful incentive to brush up on the skills and the knowledge, respectively. That is, it seems to me that the passing score a candidate achieves on these things is much less interesting than what the candidate learned and re-learned to achieve it - and can then take into the classroom.

For this reason I'm relatively philosophical about people taking CBEST more than once - well, that and the high levels of anxiety about testing that keep being expressed in these forums. You're quite correct that it isn't such a challenging test, but I'm not sure it's appropriate to decree that all those who struggle "should be back in school getting educated": given the prevalence of struggle, we cannot dismiss out of hand the possibility that something systemic needs to be fixed.

I suspect that you and dougd46 - and I, come to that - never really had to work at the process issues in test taking. Bully for us, but, frankly, I'm much more impressed by people who do struggle and persevere: who face down some demons from the past (including, I am sorry to say, teachers who told them they DIDN'T have what it takes), master materials and methods they hadn't mastered before, and come back a second or even third or fourth time and do what needs to be done.

22. ### MalcolmEnthusiast

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Sep 14, 2005

I think you read more into my words than were there. I didn't say people who struggle with the test should be back in school. I said people who don't know what was on the test (with the exception I'll make of the questions on standardized scoring which were pretty specific to the profession) should be back in school. This the 3Rs, basic life skills. Nobody should be able to graduate from middle school, much less high school or college, without knowing this stuff. And if you don't know it, you need to learn it. Some folks can do it on their own. Most folks need to go to school to do it.

I teach a community college math class for vocational students. These students generally didn't do well in math in highschool. They aren't in a vocational program because they are the most capable students. Maybe 1 in 100 will transfer to a four year school, if that. They certainly aren't what most folks would consider teacher potential. But every one of them could pass the math part of CBEST after I have them for half a semester.

All this says nothing about what I think of the personal traits of folks who don't pass. I, too, admire people who struggle, persevere and overcome. And like I said, there are a lot of other reasons people fail than for lack of knowledge. And to reiterate IMHO CBEST doesn't say a thing about how good a teacher someone will be.

But you hit it on the head. There is something wrong systemically that needs to be fixed. That is primary and secondary education in the United States today. No, I didn't struggle with academic subjects, although I have struggled with some others. But listen to this. I found a class photo from my 1st grade class from a long time ago. There were more than 60 kids in it, one teacher, no aides. Most of the kids were from working class homes, some from middle class homes. We didn't have TVs, computers, or any of the technology that seems so important today. But every one of those kids who didn't move away over the years could read, write and do arithmetic at grade level when they left the 8th grade. And some of those kids were none too bright. Can't say that for too many schools nowadays. Now before you jump on me for criticizing teachers, let me say it takes more than a teacher to educate a child.

23. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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Mike, thanks for the clarification. It sounds like we're actually in rather close agreement. D'you think that if we keep telling people CBEST isn't a judgment on their ability to teach, they'll eventually believe us long enough to go sharpen the skills and pass the thing?

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Sep 19, 2005

Interesting. I have to agree in general that if you cant pass the CBEST you have no right to be in the classroom with any responsibility for teaching, at least in my opinion.

There are two issues here..poor test takers (for a myriad of reasons) and poorly educated, the latter should go back to school and learn what they should know. The CBEST is a basic competency test and nothing more. You can dress it up in fine coloured (colored) clothes as much as you like but the reality is, it tests that you finished grade school and at least turned up for most classes.

I do wonder how many people fail because they have a poor lack of comprehension in the english language arena, and that goes for the CSET too. My few years I have spent in California indicate to me there are many people who exist on the 1000 words of english required to get by on a daily basis and spend the rest of their time conversing and socializing in their native tongue. Perhaps that is more of problem than knowing facts!

25. ### MalcolmEnthusiast

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California is a very interesting place linguistically. There are many areas where one can spend their entire life and not have to speak a word of English: Chinatown in San Francisco (Cantonese and other dialects), Little Saigon in Westminster (Vietnamese), Santa Ana (Spanish), Sacramento (Russian and Ukranian) etc.. But I don't think that has anything to do with teacher candidates being able to pass CBEST. Remember, we are talking about college educated people. It is the educational system (primary, secondary and postsecondary) that lets teacher candidates get to the point of taking CBEST unprepared that is the problem.

Many colleges and universities have English and math assessment programs for incoming students. They offer remedial courses. Yet many candidates fail CBEST. To me, that shows how bad the problem is.

26. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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Unfortunately, showing up for classes doesn't guarantee learning. One of the things that CBEST tests - not officially, mind you - is the extent to which the test taker agrees that reading comprehension, basic math, writing, and critical thinking are worth getting good at and staying good at. I think Lardygeezer is suggesting that people who want to teach but are aware of deficits in one or more of these skills have some work to do. I agree: there should probably be a statute of limitations on blaming the bad teachers of one's youth for one's lack of skill in math. Or reading. Or writing. Or, for that matter, test taking, which is very much a learnable skill that depends in large measure on critical thinking.

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Sep 21, 2005

Yes exactly.

However yes I do say that linguistically challenged California (for that very reason) should adhere to the "National" language and for the time being at least, english is the preferred one.

Malcolm, I was in a teacher training class (University) the other day and the instructor asked if anyone could do one or all of the following:

Spell perilous
Say what it means
And give an example of the word used in a complete sentence.

The diversity not only of language, ethnicity but also age also distinctly measurable in the class.

I am not going to go into any assumptions here but I can tell you I was amazed how many people could not do one of these let alone the combination.

I offered the meaning as "being fraught with danger" at which point a number of students asked what fraught meant. My response - I apologize I only speak english and cant make it any simpler.

It is no wonder then, to me, that hundreds are failing the CBEST/CSET and many because they dont see the value, are lazy, or otherwise of assimilating into the dominant culture. The Central Valley reminds me of visits I have made in to third world countries. Spanish is the primary language and in some towns the only language. Poverty exists in similar quantities to free services and equal opportunity, although they may be inappropriately directed. This has its consequences and many people make claims to be bi-lingual and I would argue they are not, they are in fact semi-lingual in two languages.

Finally, while we are on the subject (just to illustrate language related mind sets), I was in a JC 12 months ago where a department within that college declared I was not bilingual and therefore ineligible for a program. I disputed this and was then asked if I speak Spanish, to which I replied No. The assertion was again made that I was not bilingual, I then told the person what I thought of this in French, this was greeted with a blank stare and my further contempt for the falsity of the "multicultural" flag wavers. If you could have seen my face and the total disbelief you'd have been left in no doubt that this was an absurdly laughable situation.

I am not American so do not feel loaded with guilt that 'White affluent' America chooses to carry generation after generation banging the same old drum. If any immigrant, including myself, wants to take full advantage of what this country has to offer then assimilation is of primary importance. Learning the language and becoming proficient beyond the 1000 words of what I call "Mac-speak" is essential otherwise you minimize what you can get and more importantly transfer that to your children also.

I dont care I can move out of the Central Valley, yet many semi-professionals dont have that mobility because they lack langauge comprehension skills.

Wow that's more than I had intended saying, but when we are talking about why people fail simple exams like the CBEST one cant help (if they have completed grade school) asking why this is so. My personal opinion based on experiential observation is that the poor english skills in education is the root of many problems. Nobody seems to want to tackle this head on, so the system gets 'dumbed' down while we spend our time making sure everyone fits in comfortable cubbyhole called multicultural diversity..everything has its price.

28. ### davek123New Member

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Sep 26, 2005

I got my cbest scores back. I got a 66 on both the reading and math sections. I was wondering if I should go back and take the test again. I thought I got every question right and I am extremely pissed that I must have missed numerous problems. (by the way, this is not a joke) any advice provided would be helpful.

29. ### MalcolmEnthusiast

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I think California is much worse off than a third world country in some ways. Go to a third world country and you will see any poor child who has the opportunity to take advantage of an eduction doing so. Not so here.

Dave, congratulations!

AFAIK there is absolutely no need to take the exam again. The score is not even printed on the transcripts they send you to give to the hiring district, just "passing status".

30. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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Some districts do try to find out an applicant's scores, but I can't imagine any objecting to scores of 66. It may be possible to have one's test rescored, but in this case it really isn't worth it. I get the impression, Dave, that you're a fairly confident test taker: what may have happened is that you may have gotten a little too confident - because of the gap between the reputation the CBEST has among some test takers and its reality for you - and that could have led to some smite-the-forehead careless mistakes. As to whether it's even possible to retake a subtest passed with more than 49 points, I don't know: the CBEST people could conclude that you're out to spy on the test or something.

(Someone may wonder: why 49 points, when 41 is a full pass? The CBEST passer has to get a total of 123 scaled points on all three sections and cannot get fewer than 37 on any section. Two scores of 37 could be combined with a score of 49 to make a passing score. It therefore makes no sense to try to squeeze extra points out of a section to make up a low score on another if you've already scored 50 or better on that section.)

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32. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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Cute, Lardygeezer.

Seriously, every time I think testmaking companies are being just utterly unreasonable about test security and all that, some idiot comes along and confirms the companies' worst suspicions with the equivalent of crib notes on the back of the water label or some such. And every time I think the test takers are being totally unreasonable about finding out exact test questions, test companies come along with a crackdown that's pointlessly dumb but reinforces the widespread paranoia.

33. ### RBundgardNew Member

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Sep 29, 2005

Hi Dave,
I will assume that you earned a 66 on both reading and math, and this is not a combined score. I have been teaching both CBEST and CSET prep workshops at university level for the past eight years (for the former test) and three years (for the later exam), and I can assure you that no one, I mean no one, will hire you based on your high CBEST scores: you only are required to pass the exam. So, give yourself a pat on the back and start preparing for the next hurdle--the CSET.
Best wishes and congratulations!

34. ### bgaineshunterRookie

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Agreed!

I just took the CBEST, and I am African American. Although I do not have my scores yet, I'm fairly certain that I did not fail the test (or even come close).

I walked out of the room thinking, "How could anyone actually fail that test? The high school exit exam is probably more difficult."

Although the argument that many competent (or potentially competent) teachers fail the test sounds reasonable, it is not. All professionals--CPAs, doctors, lawyers, etc.--have to pass licensing exams. None of those exams test the interpersonal skills that are necessary to be successful in those fields. Neither does the CBEST. The question I ask is what are teachers who can not pass the exam teaching? Could it be part of the reason why "Dennis" can not read? Fortunately, students do not file malpractice suits, as clients do in other professions, because if they did, the lawsuits would be flying. It's nice to have a personable teacher. Everyone deserves one. However, we also need teachers who show subject matter competence. Teachers who can not pass the CBEST are overpaid babysitters.

35. ### bgaineshunterRookie

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Apr 22, 2006

You just wanted to brag.

36. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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Someone with a college education and a reasonable ability to write and no reason to believe failure is probable will generally do just fine on CBEST. Someone who expects CBEST to be difficult may well pass, but someone who expects CBEST to be difficult AND expects not to pass tests will probably not pass. And someone who goes into CBEST with a horror or hatred of math in all forms - or writing in all its forms - or reading comprehension - is certainly going to find it harder to pass.

37. ### MalcolmEnthusiast

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Apr 23, 2006

Are there are any teachers in the public schools in California who have not passed CBEST. Weren't teachers who were working at the time CBEST was introduced required to pass it within a certain amount of time? In any case, all new teachers in California have to pass CBEST.

Certainly someone with a college education ought to be able to pass CBEST without much trouble. But I don't think that is actually the case for some folks because the system let them get through high school and and even college without having to perform at an appropriate level. Then there are the folks who know the material but just don't do well on tests...

Students do file lawsuits about the quality of the education they are getting. OTOH some years ago, some groups of our society filed a lawsuit against the state seeking to invalidate CBEST because they could not pass it at the same rate as other groups.

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Apr 23, 2006

I do think we - this is a very big "we" - need to be less quick to tell people why they shouldn't expect to do well. There are way too many failure messages that are getting internalized way too thoroughly.

39. ### Annie333New Member

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Jun 2, 2006

I scored 75

Hi everyone.

I scored a 75 on the writing portion of the CBEST. I tried to write simple and well-organized 5-paragraph essays that had vivid introductions. I used lots of descriptive language in the body of the essays.

Other than some flowery descriptive terms, my essays were very simple and straightforward. I stuck to the basic template of the 5-paragraph essay rigidly.

Best of luck to you all!

40. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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Proof positive: the CBEST essay is your plain bog-standard five-paragraph high school essay.

Of course, no one cares whether one scores 41 or 75: passing is passing, period. But there's no point making the exercise more complicated or strenuous than it really is.