Check out Hochberg's website on this: http://scotthochberg.com/staterep.shtml
I should have posted these earlier.
Hochberg unmasks TEA’s controversial rule
By RICK CASEY
July 8, 2010, 9:19PM
Criss Cloudt understandably grew defensive last week as she tried to explain to a group of legislators how a student who got absolutely every question wrong on a TAKS writing test could be scored as passing it.
Cloudt was in the hot seat because she is the Texas Education Agency's associate commissioner in charge of the "accountability system" that administers the TAKS test and ranks schools and school districts on a four-tier scale from "unacceptable" to "exemplary."
She was also in the hot seat because the man presumably most responsible for instituting the controversial new "Texas Projection Measure" that is producing such absurd results, Education Commissioner Robert Scott, failed to show up. But that's another story. Today we look at the ways that Cloudt appeared to try to mislead Houston state Rep. Scott Hochberg and his Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, and how Hochberg repeatedly called her on it.
It began with Hochberg asking what accounted for a huge jump last year in the number of schools and school districts rated as "recognized" and "exemplary."
"Performance," said Cloudt.
But Hochberg got her to admit that 73 of the 74 additional "exemplary districts" that took us from 43 in 2008 to 117 in 2009 received that distinction only because the new Texas Projection Measure miraculously allowed nearly half the 1 million TAKS tests that had been failed to count as passing for the purpose of rating schools and districts.
Cloudt said the Texas Projection Measure is a "growth measure." To most of us, that would imply that it looked at how a child did this year compared to last.
Hochberg brought out that it doesn't. It looked only at last year's scores and, based on a formula devised from thousands of prior results, projected that children who pass reading or math were likely to pass other tests in future years.
Cloudt claimed that based on analysis looking backward, the formulas used in the projections are "quite good, actually."
"Really?" said Hochberg. "What would you consider quite good?"
"They're on average in the 90s (percent) in terms of projection accurate," Cloudt said.
I assumed that she was referring to the cases in which failing children were counted as passing.
But Hochberg was on to her. He got her to admit that the predictions that were accurate more than 90 percent of the time included all children — those who did very well on all the TAKS tests (who can safely be predicted to pass) and those who did terribly an all the tests (who can safely be predicted to fail).
Hochberg revealed that TEA's own analysis showed that the accuracy rate for those whose performance was actually upgraded using the "projection measure" was in the range of 50 percent.
Cloudt continued to defend the projections, saying repeatedly that when a failing child was counted as passing it was because "hundreds and hundreds" of other children whose test scores fit the exact same pattern later passed.
But again, Hochberg was ready. He called as a witness an expert from Pearson, the national testing company that devised the Texas Projection Measure.
She explained that the formula used to "project" future success was not made by looking at the records of earlier kids with identical scoring patterns. It was based, again, on aggregate numbers that included the highest and lowest performing students as well as those in the middle.
Hochberg asked Cloudt if that was right.
"That's different than what I said before," she admitted. "It's a better explanation."
The question is, was Cloudt deliberately trying to mislead Hochberg and the public throughout the hearing, or did she really not understand the bizarre system that can turn a test score of zero to a passing score?
And which would be more disturbing?
Coming Sunday: The politics of this fiasco.