A-F Proposed Revisions Part Two: Student Growth
In Part One, I discussed the fact that this round of proposed rules contains no changes to the Student Achievement part of the A-F Report Card, in spite of the evidence that this component is based on a scale that is completely arbitrary. This section will look at changes to the student growth component, which counts for the next 17 percent of the report card.
The Student Growth Index tracks reading and math scores from one year to the next. No other subjects are counted. One unfortunate by-product of this is a reduction of emphasis on all other academic content areas. Science, social studies, music, art, physical education, computer instruction, world languages – they all are afterthoughts, especially at the elementary level.
As written last year, the index was calculated for all students for whom the state data system could create a matched pair. If Johnny tested in 3rd grade in Choctaw, then tested in 4th grade in Choteau, the system would find him and match the pair.
One concern was that if students already scored highly, schools would struggle to have a high index. This proved not to be true, as each matched pair received points according to the following scale:
- Unsatisfactory to Limited Knowledge: 1 point
- Unsatisfactory to Proficient: 2 points
- Unsatisfactory to Advanced: 3 points
- Limited Knowledge to Proficient: 1 point
- Limited Knowledge to Advanced: 2 points
- Proficient to Proficient or Advanced: 1 point
- Advanced to Advanced: 1 point
None of this was terribly controversial. It was the next part that caused most of the debate over methodology:
- Meets or Exceeds State Average Growth: 1 point
Newspapers, education groups, and even the governor weighed in with opinions of what that meant. Is it really growth if you’re measuring all students (in which case the growth was negative)? Or is it really an average if you leave out students who stayed the same or declined? Either way, you’re excluding a part of the story.
(Though I am typically wary to use sports analogies, I think it is worth noting that as of tonight, the Oklahoma City Thunder have a 9.1 average margin of victory, and that the NBA uses all games – not just games won – in calculating that statistic.)
The rule change here is subtle. They change this section to read “Meets or Exceeds State Average Positive Change.” It is supported above by two paragraph additions:
The score shall be calculated in whole and by subject-matter by assigning points for a positive change in proficiency level for eligible students from the previous school year to the current school year or by a positive change in Oklahoma Performance Index (OPI) score that meets or exceeds the State average of students with a positive OPI change.
And under the lead in “eligible students who have” the section also adds:
Improved their state standardized assessment achievement level or state standardized alternative assessment achievement level and such change in OPI from the previous school year to the current school year met or exceeded the State average of students with a positive OPI change.
The only thing notable about these changes is that the SDE is now codifying the method they used last year, when they did whatever they wanted without any real input. Taking what they did previously and making the rule read that explicitly, Barresi is hardly living up to her comments from Friday’s press release (the one with the wrong date). The part where she attributes these changes to “concerns previously expressed by education stakeholders across the state” rings completely hollow.
This rule change in fact is no change at all. It is semantic at best, like something Shakespeare would have enjoyed.
|Abraham: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
Sampson: I do bite my thumb, sir.
Abraham: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
Sampson (to Gregory): Is the law of our side if I say ay?
Sampson: No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you sir; but I bite my thumb, sir.
Gregory: Do you quarrel, sir?
Abraham: Quarrel, sir? No, sir.
Part Three will discuss the third section of the Report Cards – Bottom Quartile Student Growth. This will be the greatest concern yet.