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Comment Archives: Last 7 Days

Re: “Tucson Salvage

Great list, Brian. Extra kudos for including the Parliament cut. Bagpipe soul! George Clinton et al. are also responsible for one of the most heartbreaking tributes to returning Nam vets (The March to the Witches Castle). Moving stuff. And Junior Murvin? Stellar.

19 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Peabo on 08/15/2017 at 12:08 PM

Re: “A Look At TUSD's AzMERIT Scores

You express concern about the difference between TUSD's improvement and Arizona's overall improvement. That difference is both meaningless and highly informative.

Meaningless in the sense that it is real with statistical significance.

Highly informative in the sense that Arizona cant be successful unless TUSD hugely increases the pace of academic growth of its students.

At less than $15 per test, the AZMerit is a low security test, as compared to high security tests like Advanced Placement at more than $60 per test.

We know from nationwide test data and comparisons with NAEP that almost all of the changes in state test scores on tests like the Iowa Test of Basic skills, the Stanford 9, AZMerit etc can be ascribed to security issues. When completely new versions of the test are released, test scores plunge and then steadily increase until a new version is released. Yet, NAEP scores are flat by comparison.

In this digital age, undoubtedly thousands of teachers have complete copies of last year's AZMerit test.

We also saw these phenomena in AZ school districts with merit pay linked to test scores. They had higher erasure rates than other school districts. This is a strong indication that the behavior went over the line to absolute cheating - erasing a wrong answer and putting in a correct answer.

These security issues call into question everything about education culture. The new A to F system is completely built around growth models and the new performance funding model will be completely built around the A to F.

Back in 1992, Tennessee did what Arizona is doing now, tried to build a new education culture around growth models instead raw test scores. Didn't work. Actually backfired. Tennessee's NAEP scores fell relative to the rest of the nation.

In the Urban Institute Analysis, perhaps the best ranking of states in existence right now, Tennessee ranks 41st on an apples to apples comparison of test scores. Who copies number 41?

You indicated that the 50 plus formula A to F model was "above your pay grade." Not really. It emphasizes growth in duplicative ways and more heavily than the old model. The blizzard of formulas just disguises its simplistic nature. Does your students get two more problems right than they did last year? If so, your school gets an A, if not, a lower grade.

The formulas are creative in the sense that they go back further in history to calculate not just one year gains but two and three year gains. This increases the sample size and also makes it a little bit harder for cheaters to skate by.

I don't fault the staff who created this. When you look at it, is it the Frankenstein of education policy or the ultimate refined expression of what you might be able to do if accountability actually worked?

The blunt truth: all mass inspection tests like AZMerit "accountability" lead to a dead end and worse outcomes for students.

To best improve test scores you would put an end to AZMerit and just rely on NAEP to measure outcomes, allowing education to evolve naturally under the interaction of parents making choices and schools changing to better compete for students.

Thats what Finland did.

Not going to happen here.

4 likes, 12 dislikes
Posted by on 08/15/2017 at 9:18 AM

Re: “A Look At TUSD's AzMERIT Scores

I wondered, as I looked at the data, exactly how it is collected. That is, as we watch from year to year, aren't we watching roughly the same kids, as they go through? 2015's 5th graders are 2016's sixth graders, right? What effect does that have on the scores? And if we know anything from the scores, its that the Districts' desegregation efforts to reduce the achievement gap are not working, no matter how much window dressing top Administration puts on it.The district has been failing its black and brown kids in epic proportions, all the while paying vast sums of money to lawyers to say "it aint so". Needless to say, that money would be far better spent in the classroom.

And then from a different direction there are possible other explanations for our district wide poor achievement. Almost the only good answer by the candidate for superintendent last night referred to the effect of Board behavior on district performance. He stated that he had read a study recently that correlated divisive, untrusting board behavior (as measured by watching videos of the Boards in action) with low scoring districts. In other words, looking across multiple districts, and observing Board behavior on video, the more the members of the Boards trusted each other, or at least acted as if they did, the higher performing the Distric, as measured by grading (A-F). It seems that TUSD voters succeed in switching Board majorities, but the divisive, cruel and manipulative way the members treat each other never seems to change much. This might be an additional place to look for WHY our District cannot seem to get out of its achievement crisis. Perhaps the adults in the room need to model better behavior as they (supposedly) focus on the children in the schools.

14 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Betts Putnam-Hidalgo on 08/15/2017 at 7:49 AM

Re: “A Look At TUSD's AzMERIT Scores

"They only test what's testable in a fill-in-the-bubble format" - very true, but, on average, I'd bet the students who can reason well and write well also do well on the tests. You have to measure somehow or you can never know what is improving and the state is too lazy to actually have more meaningful tests.
You can blame high rates of immigration of poor and unskilled people from countries with little tradition of education for most of TUSD's issues.

4 likes, 15 dislikes
Posted by bslap on 08/15/2017 at 6:01 AM

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