As discussed in PURE Reform's Featured Topics section, the initial four year period for Excellence for All goals has now been completed (http://www.purereform.com/excellence09.html ). At last week's Legislative Hearing a board member asked about the EFA goals. Questions included whether these were authentic goals and whether new goals would be set.
Superintendent Roosevelt responded that at the time the goals were set, they made it very clear that these goals were just aspirational and confirmed that they expected to be judged on the extent the goals were met. He noted that there was progress on some goals but not others. For example, he noted that the goal for 3rd grade reading proficiency was 80% and that although actual 3rd grade reading proficiency at the end of the four year period was only 62%, that 62% represented 3/5 of the 80% goal. He also said that new goals would be set. When questioned about why we should not aspire to 100% advanced achievement, the superintendent said that the numbers chosen were intended as a way to mark progress and that while he is not contented he believes they did well.
However, rather than stating "We aspire to reach x% proficiency," the EFA objectives state that given percentages of students "will be" proficient. Moreover, the goals seemed to be very precise, actual targets- for example, "58% of 11th grade students will be Proficient in Math." The choice of numbers like 58% rather than a rounded number like 60% gives the impression of specific rather than general goals. There does not seem to be any indication at all that the goals were aspirations.
And, even if the heading "How We Will Hold Ourselves Accountable" referred only to accountability for some unstated degree of progress, it is important to remember that the starting proficiency percentage was not zero. For example, starting proficiency for 3rd grade reading was 50%, so that a 12 percentage point gain to 62% proficiency was only 40% of the targeted 30 percentage point improvement.
The next EFA plan should set forth the percentages that will actually be considered sufficient progress along the path to 100% proficiency.