Saturday, July 31, 2010

2010 Texas School Accountability Ratings Are Out

As promised, the Texas Education Agency has put up its finalized listing of campuses and districts, ratings that are in large part boiled down from millions of test scores. You can find them here. They call these tests “high stakes” not only because they determine whether a student will advance to the next grade at key critical stages, whether a student will or will not graduate, but also whether a campus receives one of four ratings.

In descending order, campuses can be rated as Exemplary, Recognized, Academically Acceptable or Academically Unacceptable.

And for the second year, the Texas Projection Measure, an algorithm concocted at Pearson Education, is being used to predict whether a student will eventually achieve mastery level in a TAKS test. In doing that, if the TPM projects eventual TAKS mastery, the student’s result is moved to the mastery column and this a win for the campus and district toward its rating.

This algorithm has been the subject of much discussion this year, and for good reason. For example, a 10th grade student taking a science TAKS test is not affected by their scores. The TPM looks at the four different TAKS test that the 10th grader takes and from the performance of their peers, uses their performance on the 10th grade test to project whether the student will eventually pass the 11th grade exit level TAKS test.

The TPM, you could say, has served to increase the overall ratings of campuses. For example, just looking at high schools, which are the schools that are typically less likely to obtain an Exemplary rating, in 2010 there are 201 Exemplary schools. Five or so years ago, if memory serves, there were 13.

But this isn’t really the main problem with TPM campus rating inflation, is it? The main problem is at the other end. How many, I wonder, Academically Acceptable high school campuses are there that have been given that rating based on the TPM? In all, there are 347 high school campuses in Texas rated as Academically Acceptable (there are 37 high school campuses rated at Academically Unacceptable). But this is not a thing easily answered because the TEA will not produce a sorted table that includes whether the TPM impacted the rating.

You have to work for it.

So I looked at a 10% sampling and found out of 37 AA schools, only two of them were assigned that rating because of the TPM.

So that’s assuring.

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