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Monday, July 19, 2010

Controversial Texas Projection Measure may again boost schools' ratings

By HOLLY K. HACKER / The Dallas Morning News
July 19, 2010
  Hundreds of Texas campuses are expected to receive high marks again this month, thanks to a state rule that counts some students who failed a TAKS test as having passed.

The Texas Projection Measure, introduced last year, predicts students' future TAKS scores in a given subject based on their current TAKS scores and on their previous year's average campus score. If a student fails this year's TAKS test but is predicted to pass in a future year, the school gets credit as if the student had passed this year. And that can boost a school's rating.

The Texas Education Agency is scheduled to release this year's ratings July 30.

The controversial formula came under attack during a recent Texas House subcommittee hearing. Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, gave a few examples of how students could bomb the TAKS but still get credit for passing.

Since then, TEA Commissioner Robert Scott has said the Texas Projection Measure may be eliminated or revised in 2011. One possible revision: allowing districts to decide whether to use the measure.
Supporters say the concept helps recognize the efforts of schools where students have made academic gains but still fall short of the passing standards.

According to the agency, 73 districts and 1,111 campuses saw their ratings rise from recognized to exemplary last year because of the measure. And 178 districts and 1,077 campuses climbed from acceptable to recognized because of the adjustment.

Here are some hypothetical North Texas examples of how the projection measure works and how it can benefit schools. All of the following schools saw a ratings boost last year because of the projection measure, but it isn't clear whether they'll benefit again this year.

SMITH HIGH SCHOOL, CARROLLTON-FARMERS BRANCH ISD
2009 rating: Recognized
Example: Ninth-grade math
Suppose a student answered only 20 of 52 questions correctly on the math TAKS (28 correct answers are needed to pass) but answered 32 of 42 questions correctly on the reading TAKS (26 are needed to pass).
Result: School gets credit for student passing the math test.

MAYNARD JACKSON MIDDLE SCHOOL, DALLAS ISD
2009 rating: Acceptable
Example: Eighth-grade science
Suppose a student answered only 15 of 50 questions correctly on the science TAKS (33 are needed to pass) but answered 42 of 48 questions correctly on the reading TAKS test (35 are needed to pass) and 34 of 50 questions correctly on the math test (29 are needed to pass).
Result: School gets credit for student passing the science test.

MEMORIAL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, PLANO ISD
2009 rating: Acceptable
Example: Fourth-grade writing
Suppose a student missed all 32 questions on the writing test (17 correct answers are needed to pass) but got 27 of 40 questions correct on the reading test (27 are needed to pass) and 27 of 42 questions correct on the math test (27 are needed to pass).
Result: School gets credit for student passing the writing test.

BRIGHT ELEMENTARY, FRISCO ISD
2009 rating: Exemplary
Example: Third-grade math and reading
Suppose a student failed the math test by four questions (22 correct answers out of 40, 26 are needed to pass) and the reading test by just one question (20 correct answers out of 36, 21 correct answers are needed to pass).
Result: School gets credit for student passing the math test but not the reading test. 

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