Home > Uncategorized > A-F Proposed Revisions Part Three: Bottom Quartile Student Growth

A-F Proposed Revisions Part Three: Bottom Quartile Student Growth

February 27, 2013

I’m taking a few posts this week to highlight the new proposed rules for A-F Report Cards issued last week by the State Department of Education. Part One looked at the Student Achievement section of the report cards (first 33 percent), containing no changes whatsoever. Part Two examined the rule change to the Student Growth Index, which merely solidifies the controversial practice of calculating average growth without a real average. This post will discuss changes to the calculation of the Bottom Quartile Growth.

These are a big deal, and not to spoil the ending for you, not very well thought out.

Last year, this 17 percent of the Report Card included the matched scores (from one year to the next) of the lowest 25 percent of students in the school. The catch was that if a school had less than 25 percent of its students failing the tests, this section would only count the students below proficient. For many schools receiving an A, this led to a negligible number of students needing to show improvement. In fact, using the sample of ten elementary schools I put together last weekend, we can see that two of them did not have enough students to count for this section.

School

Free/Reduced Lunch %

Student Achievement

Student Growth

Bottom Quartile

Whole School

Letter Grade

A

3.5%

101

98

***

96

A

B

13.4%

97

91

80

96

A

C

24.8%

104

93

***

96

A

D

25.9%

100

92

97

96

A

E

30.1%

97

98

70

96

B

F

37.2%

90

96

51

96

B

G

59.8%

83

90

63

95

B

H

62.6%

101

80

78

96

B

I

68.4%

88

82

70

96

B

That is all changing. The proposed rules read this way:

Improvement of the lowest twenty-five percent (25%) of students in reading and math shall be aggregated, unless the students in this category are exhibiting satisfactory performance, as defined by scoring Satisfactory, Proficient or Advanced as required by 70 O.S. § 1210.545. The score shall be calculated in whole and by subject-matter by assigning points for a positive change in proficiency score 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’s positive average growth change.

The underscores are additions. The strikethroughs are deletions. This will mean that schools at the top – the ones with few students struggling on the state tests – they will have to show growth as well. This is the problem that high-performing schools have feared all along, and rightly so.

I’ve written (endlessly, some would argue) that poverty impacts performance. Never have I suggested that we make things harder for the schools that have less poverty. This rule change would do exactly that, and without good reason. As written, students aggregated for this calculation would be counted 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
  • Meets or Exceeds State Average Positive Change: 1 point

Do you see what’s missing? What happens to the students who were proficient or advanced last year, but were in the bottom 25 percent of all schools for a particular school? Don’t shake your head; it happens. Any student in the aggregate calculation not accounted for in the scale above will count for zero points and lower the school’s average. A student who was proficient last year and remains proficient this year will actually lose points in this section.

One problem I highlighted with Bottom Quartile Growth in the fall was that there is already a strong difference in how the calculation affects schools by grade span. In simpler terms, elementary schools are hit harder. This is mostly due to the fact that the cut scores for the reading and math tests are set higher in third, fourth, and fifth grade than they are in sixth, seventh, and eighth. The proposed change to this section will only amplify this effect.

Again I go back to the main takeaway from the OU/OSU report. These scores are already “meaningless for school improvement purposes.” Proposed revisions to sections one and two do absolutely nothing to fix this. What they’re doing to part three makes things worse.

*****

Note – I will try to have Part Four up this evening and a quick preview of tomorrow’s State Board of Education meeting up by morning. Then I’ll likely have a recap of the meeting Friday. If I do a February recap/March preview post, it may have to wait until Saturday.

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  1. scm
    February 27, 2013 at 8:23 am

    This looks like the same scale as last year; it would have the effect of not counting the students who are proficient. Are you sure that they will use this scale, and not the one you posted for all students yesterday? If they use the same scale for all students and the bottom 25%, it will still be wrong, but it wouldn’t be this bad.

    What we need to consider is not counting the lowest-scoring students three times while barely counting the best students once. That’s a matter for the Legislature, as Sen. Jolley’s bill is the source of that particular harm.

    Like

    • February 27, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      I’m not sure that’s their intent, but you’re right about it reading this way. Surely this will be something they change.

      Like

  1. February 27, 2013 at 7:18 am
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