Recently I read, “An Examination of the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s A-F Report Card”, commissioned by the two largest professional school organizations in the state: the Oklahoma School Boards Association (OSBA) and the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA). If you kiddos out there haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet, don’t worry, I’ll bet it will show up on the Common Core State Standards reading list with all those other exciting non-fiction reads kids are going to enjoy so much, but that’s another story.
Calculation of Student Achievement
“The scores assigned to represent proficiency levels…do not seem to correspond to any recognizable metric”. This goes to the necessity for a study to be replicable. If a study cannot be replicated, it can’t be reliable. In this case it was impossible for the authors to decide how the categories of Proficiency Levels were determined because there was “no clear justification” for why these categories were assigned. This alone should be the nail in the coffin of this A-F system as categories used to assign specific value are apparently arbitrary.
In addition, the “basis for letter grade conversion is undocumented”. How is it that an “A” is designated as having the Performance Index Range of 90-120, but all other letter designations merit a 10 point range? Again the sense of arbitrariness challenges the concept of validity.
Proficiency Levels (Limited Knowledge, Satisfactory, Proficient and Advanced) are introduced into the metric to allow parents to make assumptions about student academic Growth within the school. Proficiency Levels are assigned a numerical value and the subsequent changes in numerical value determine the degree of student academic Growth. Because of the way Proficiency Levels are assigned in the rubric, there is no way to determine student grown within a proficiency level - “no change and negative change are accorded the same zero point value”.
Students could go from the top of the Advanced category to the bottom, or from the bottom of the Limited Knowledge category to the top, yet no change would be reflected in the actual letter designation for the school. Not only that, but because academic growth and proficiency levels are non-linear in nature, there can be no extrapolation from individual student to school or even classroom. There is no way to make scientific conclusions about data that have no real cause and effect relationship.
Growth of Bottom Quartile
Since this is a very small category, small sample size can introduce bias that may not be able to be corrected away by calculating a confidence interval, making the measure unreliable.
Whole School Performance
Attendance alone determines this component in elementary schools. This component is a full third of the entire rubric, yet there is absolutely no scientific study which shows that students learn simply by benefit of being present in a school. How is this measure relevant?
I could continue critiquing the author’s critique, but frankly there is no reason. As I said previously, the entire system should go the way of the Porcelain God based upon the fact that the majority of the categories and values assigned are neither replicable nor valid.
Though every informed citizen has (or should have!) an opinion about the practice of public education –education isn’t, nor should it be, a partisan issue. It saddens us here at ROPE, however, that state establishment Republicans continually circle the wagons around our Superintendent and Governor as they push the big government ideals of the Obama Administration while marginalizing those of us who dare to contest this phenomenon. Interesting, isn’t it? One can only be educated by learning, and one can only learn by opening one’s mind to possibilities outside one’s own orthodoxy, yet, we see very little of that from Republican bureaucrats in Oklahoma dedicated to “education reform”. We here at ROPE look forward to the day we are able to witness the Republican “education reform” establishment practice what they preach. We can only ‘hope’.
BIBLIOGRAPHY (in order of use)