Comments on the HS progress reports 11/3/10

High school progress reports; more unreliable and unfair measures

November 3, 2010

Today the high school progress reports were released for 2009-2010; here is an excel spreadsheet.

Yet experts continue to have grave reservations as to their reliability, with DOE placing far too much emphasis on test scores and especially the “progress” component, which means one year’s changes in test scores, credit accumulation, passing rates etc., which have found to be extremely erratic and statistically unreliable. For more on this see this study, and this previous posting.

We have also seen the extremely damaging effects of this high-stakes accountability scheme, causing principals to increasingly “game” the system, that is, encouraging their teachers to “scrub” the scores, and or raising the scores themselves to passing, and/or awarding credits to students who either didn’t actually pass their courses or even take them. Two articles in the past few days have revealed this occurrence at high schools in Queens and Manhattan; these practices are disturbingly widespread, and often occur with DOE’s knowledge.

Right now in the city’s schools, under Bloomberg and Klein, there is a lawless atmosphere, with very little oversight. In this “wild west” environment, it is very easy to manipulate the data, especially since DOE officials do not appear to care how schools get results, as long as graduation rates and test scores improve

Finally, it is interesting to note that the twenty schools with the highest overall progress report scores had average class sizes of only 23.3 students per class, with only one of them averaging more than 25.7 students per class. Meanwhile, the twenty high schools with the lowest overall scores had an average class size of 24.9, with four schools averaging 29 students per class or more. (Click on charts to enlarge.)

As the controversial teacher data reports take class size into account as a limiting factor as to how much a teacher is expected to raise test scores; it would only be fair for the DOE to take this factor into account as well with the school progress reports, especially as many high schools are allowed to cap enrollment and thus class size at far lower levels than other high schools.

Categories Reports & Memos | Tags: , , | Posted on April 12, 2011

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