Saturday, July 24, 2010

Education commissioner defends Texas Projection Measure

Ok, so the Texas Projection Measure (TPM) developed as a part of HB 1 (3rd special session of the 79th Texas State Legislature (2005) and that later got addressed  by SB 1031 in the 80th (2007) legislature involves "predicted excellence," rewarding schools not on actual performance but on expected performance based on current test results and their school—an algorithm of a kind.

This measure involves students who fail a test but are predicted to pass it. However, some are more borderline than others and so it best "predicts" the percent passing students who are on the verge of passing (see earlier posts on TPM). Abby Rapoport from the Texas Observer suggests that this is a loophole to boost a school's rating. In any case, actual improvement or growth from one year to the next--independent of whether the cut score hurdle is met should also be considered. So one could improve and reward a school that may not quite hit the mark because of a privileging of the TPM over actual growth.

Measurement is also an issue with this model since it depends on student getting tested not only in all subjects (reading and math), but also the same language (English and Spanish) over a two-year time period, optimally.

A deeper problem with the test scores and the ratings that come from them is that we still never really know whether the students are actually learning anything. Maybe they're just becoming better test takers.


Education commissioner defends Texas Projection Measure
08:07 AM CDT on Friday, July 23, 2010

By TERRENCE STUTZ/ The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott defended a policy Thursday that has allowed schools to boost their state ratings by counting some failed students as passing, saying politics has driven many of the complaints.

Scott, speaking to the State Board of Education, said the Texas Projection Measure has been misunderstood and misrepresented by critics who contend it gives a false impression of school performance.

The complex formula allows schools and districts to count as passing some students who actually fail the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills if the projection measure shows they are likely to pass in a future year.

"There is a little bit of election-year politics going on here," Scott said.

"It is very easy to demagogue. It is very easy for someone to say they gave students credit for failing."

Democratic candidate for governor Bill White has been among those attacking the policy, accusing Scott and his boss, GOP Gov. Rick Perry, of cheating to make some schools look better than they really are.

"They decided to cheat, and then once caught cheating they failed to acknowledge responsibility. They counted failing scores as passing," White has said.

Scott rejected that, saying the formula – which gives schools credit for projected growth in student achievement – is "statistically accurate, valid and reasonable."

Scott has said he may revise the policy and will be open to any legislative changes.

He also cited scores of e-mails from superintendents, principals and teachers who wrote that the projection measure was beneficial for their students and schools – and should be retained.

The Dallas Morning News obtained copies of all e-mails received by the Texas Education Agency through the beginning of this week.

"Please keep TPM and do not suspend the use of the TPM for school accountability ratings," said Lewisville High School principal Brad Burns, reflecting the viewpoints of numerous principals.

Weatherford High School principal David Belding urged Scott to please "not dismantle a system that gives schools with more difficult student groups to educate the chance to be recognized for moving those students forward. That is what TPM does."

But there were a few critics mixed in with all the supporters of the policy.

David Seizer of Frisco called the upward adjustment of passing numbers a "crime" and "an open admission that you have been negligent with one of your major responsibilities."

The TEA reported last year that 78 school districts and 355 campuses would have been rated academically unacceptable if the test results of their students had not been adjusted by the formula.

Instead, they received acceptable ratings.

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