Tuesday, August 25, 2009

High school achievement levels shown in new Featured Topic

A new Featured Topic has been posted showing the progress of the classes of 2005 through 2010 in reaching proficency during each class's first three years of high school. Go to:



Anonymous said...

The Thompson results look pretty good! Why did they get rid of him?

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute.......Just looking at the percent of kids that were advanced or proficient each year for a group of students is NOT enough information to conclude whether or not the kids are making progress. There are 2 really big reasons why:

1. The percentage of advanced/proficient kids is not an average, it's an actual number of kids out of a whole population. It's possible for the population of a class of 3rd graders to change by the time that class gets to 11th grade. Families leave the district, kids drop out, kids go to charter schools or private schools, etc. We know this happens, we know enrollment is declining. By the way you're looking at the data, it could look like more kids are doing worse, when in actuality, the population of higher scoring kids could be declining OR the school could be retaining more of the kids that would've dropped out and so the population of lower scoring kids is increasing. There's no way to know if it's mobility or lower scores or both that are causing the lines on your graph.

2. Looking at only the % of kids that are advanced or proficient does not take into account whether or not kids are progressing from below basic to basic. Increasing percentages of advanced kids could still mean a growing achievement gap if the below basic kids aren't taken into account also.

Pennsylvania already had your idea about looking at achievement data longitudinally. They use a Value-Added approach and it's called PVAAS. Qualified statisticians used the PSSA scores of individual kids within a class to see if those students made a year's worth of academic growth. So for example, if a 3rd grade class performed a certain way at the end of 3rd grade, each of those individual students are looked at again at the end of 4th grade to see if they grew as much as they should've in 1 year. It takes into account mobility AND the starting achievement level of a kid.

Neither static PSSA scores or PVAAS growth measures can stand alone as the single way to evaluate achievement. It's important to be informed and ask good questions, but it's also important to acknowledge progress in whatever increments it is made. Teachers and kids are working their butts off to increase achievement. While there can always be a way to slice data to make it look like what you want it to say, let's not forget it's the hard work of kids and teachers that we can celebrate, that part we know is happening whether or not you think Mark Roosevelt is doing a good job.

Here's the website if anyone wants to know more about PVAAS: http://www.pde.state.pa.us/a_and_t/cwp/view.asp?a=108&q=137518

Questioner said...

Many of those who attended the PVAAS workshop felt that it is mainly useful by a school internally. PVAAS measures whether students make "a year's worth of progress"- so that if they go from basic in third grade to basic in fourth grade, they get a green arrow and things look good. Individual scores cannot be reported to the public, and the schoolwide scores like any scores will be affected if a relatively higher portion of higher achieving kids leave the school.

In fact, it's not just longitudinal reports but ALL test reports that include different years that will suffer if a relatively higher portion of higher achieving kids leave the school or improve if more high achieving kids are attracted to the school. It's just that with longintudinal scores you will at least be looking at mostly the same kids, whereas if you look at a certain grade in one year and the same grade in a different year you will be looking at NONE of the same kids. And, the issue of a change in the composition of a school or grade will arise whether you look at proficency, students moving out of below basic, or any other measure.

If declining achievement scores are thought to be the result of higher achieving kids leaving the district, that is certainly information that should accompany score reports of any type- longitudinal or not.

Yes, let's celebrate where celebration is warranted but let's also acknowlege when ground is being lost so that we can address whatever is causing the problem.

Questioner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.