Most of the community grew up with a simple grading standard: you had to score at least a 70 percent to pass an exam. For years, the state assessment reflected the same standard, but a few years ago the content and scoring of the state exam were reconsidered. The assessment was made more challenging and the new cutoff for passing was set at 60 percent.
Unfortunately, when the test scores for the local schools made the newspaper, no mention was made of the redesigned and recalibrated state exam. The outcry was predictable: "No wonder we're making 'progress' in the schools... you're passing those kids with 60 percent marks... When I was a kid that would have never passed." Although the school superintendent tried to explain that the exam had been made more rigorous, resulting in the new cutoff for passing, the damage had already been done... and no amount of public relations was going to correct it.