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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch: Today

Re: “Results-Based Funding: The Transition From Test Scores To School Grades

Response to Nathan K:

The ceiling effect you describe likely does not exist, in fact, the actual effect may be the reverse of the way you describe.

There are two systems for calculating growth in the letter grade system. The student growth percentiles which are calculated using quantile regression of batches of students with similar score histories. Quantile regression is just a fancy way of creating a distribution table of outcomes for these similar students. In a theoretical world, you would expect no correlation between student growth percentiles and academic achievement. However, that is not what you observe. There is a significant correlation, meaning, no growth ceiling, in fact, reverse growth scoring effect.

These complex technical issues have never been discussed because policymakers and, even to a degree, the statistical wizards who analyze school results have been unable to grasp the complexity of the whole picture.

There are at least 50,000 of our tested students above the 90th percentile. If as a school, you are fortunate enough to have 1,000 of them sign up for your school, how would their test scores compare at the end of the year with the other 49,000 students distributed across all of the other schools in the state?

Do you still feel entitled to an A grade even if your results were below the average of the other 50,000 students? Would you feel entitled to an A even if your results exceed just 60% of these other 50,000? What if you look and find out that the average grade of the schools where those 20,000 top ten percent students whose results exceed yours was a B?

Nathan K- if a ceiling effect exists, it exists for all 50,000 students. It doesn't. The vast majority of these students are well below the upper end of the measured spectrum, even at the most elite schools.

The second system, the progress towards standards, is based on a yardstick known as scale scores, scores just like SAT and ACT for measuring and comparing the test outcomes.

Every standard at every grade level was turned into a scale score by a mumbo-jumbo committee of really smart people. However, only God knows what principles they used. Year to year, some of the standards are 18 points apart, other years, they are 3 points apart. There is very little relationship between the average (standard?) growth of all students in a year and difference between standards across that same divide.

This has profound implications for teachers. A major part of the challenge for a teacher is defined by the scale score difference between that year's standards and the starting point for each student in their class. Some teachers have to move their typical students a Mount Everest 100 points, others can put it in cruise control - all of their students are already above the standard on the first day of school. They just need to refresh their students occasionally.

The growth measures, both the quantile regression which calculates the student growth percentile and progress towards standards give full credit to a student who is at the upper end of the spectrum for quantile regression or who just maintains if they are above the standard in the progress towards standards system.

Consider this, there are 100,000+ tested students already above the standard on the first day of school. All they have to do is to not regress to be in the money, for them, no growth is considered to be above average performance.

If you specialize in collecting these students, life is different for you.

By comparison, other teachers walk into a classroom with their typical student, in fact, every student four years below the standard. Even if they are a wonder woman and Superman, they are guaranteed to be slapped in the face by evaluation systems at the end of the year. The speed of light in education is two academic years in a school year and less than 3% of all teachers keep that pace year after year.

So, even if they achieve that spectacular two academic years in a calendar year for their average student, every student will still be below standard at the end of the year. What's worse, you can be sure that they will lose the two students who perform best in their class, have the highest gains. So the gains they do achieve will be counted on some other schools and some other teacher's scorecard.

That's why spectacular teachers migrate away from highly at-risk schools. They are smart, intelligent people and the systems victimize them. They want to be in systems that reinforce them and make them stronger over time, not tear them down.

You can see this phenomenon by carefully comparing all of the students of a school with their identical academic twins across the state. Quantile regression is supposed to do this but it fails miserably as you get to the ends of the spectrum that David talks about.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by jhuppent@hotmail.com on 10/19/2017 at 1:26 PM

Re: “Board of Supes Set To Discuss Christy Proposal for Countywide Sales Tax for Roads

Seattle increased minimum wage to $15 and businesses moved away, taking much needed revenue from them. So now they raise taxes on everybody to help pay for their little socialist experiment. Once again, expect it to fail.

Then we can all get excited about copying it here. Right lefties?

2 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Wayne Olson on 10/19/2017 at 10:49 AM

Re: “Board of Supes Set To Discuss Christy Proposal for Countywide Sales Tax for Roads

Lets watch Seattle and see how it does with the income tax they passed last election.

Then truly those that benefit and use the roads that maintain the infrastructure and reap the most can bear the cost.

2 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Robert Ruckman 1 on 10/19/2017 at 7:18 AM

Re: “Koch Brothers Infiltrate Pima County Schools With a High School Econ Course

The words of a student who underwent this subversive right wing indoctrination.

[He] understands that, ultimately, successful businesses in a free economy are virtuous at their coremeeting people's needs and doing so through ethical and mutually beneficial practices. In the end, [he] says, businesses that lack either virtuous purpose or ethical practices won'tand shouldn'tsucceed."

5 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Don Wheatley on 10/19/2017 at 5:54 AM

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