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January 18, 2011
As nice as it might be to have consistent proficiency standards across states, what’s shocking is that many states don’t even have consistent proficiency expectations across grades. Remember, we’re not talking about academic content, which naturally varies across grades, but the relative difficulty of achieving proficiency (i.e., a “passing score”). The figure below illustrates the problem, showing the difficulty of the reading and math proficiency standards in California for grades three through eight.
January 6, 2011
Despite all the talk about Common Core and establishing consistent content standards across states, we don’t hear much about establishing consistent proficiency standards. While content standards (including common core) establish what will be taught in schools, a state’s proficiency standards are the criteria used to evaluate student mastery (and consequently, school or teacher performance). Put another way, common core standards establish content, while proficiency standards establish the grading scale.
December 29, 2010
Two more reports out this month look at the growing achievement gaps between girls and boys. According to the recently released report on the international assessment PISA, boys across all countries scored an average of 39 points lower in reading than girls, a difference they equate to one full grade level. (More interesting than their findings about the gap itself, are their explanations for it.) The other study, from the Center for Economic Progress, found differences of 10 percentage points or more in proficiency rates in reading between boys and girls in some states.
December 21, 2010
The Center for Education Policy in D.C. has just come out with a new report on the achievement gap over time. They look at the percentage of students in each subgroup who pass their state’s proficiency benchmark over the course of several years. It’s a very interesting study, but it misses a point that the Kingsbury Center has made in several publications: as it is currently measured for NCLB, the achievement gap is an artificial construct relating to the difficulty of the state standard.
December 20, 2010
Every individual test score is associated with standard error of measurement (SEM). The error is an acknowledgement that the test score is only an estimate of student true ability. We can never know a student’s true score, but we can define an interval that is likely to contain the true score. Just as individual scores are associated with measurement error, so are individual growth or change scores.
December 6, 2010
The Boston Globe columnist and retired teacher Junia Yearwood questions the notion that schools and teachers are solely responsible for the performance of public school students. Yearwood argues that unless we as a society take collective responsibility for closing achievement gaps, large-scale educational improvement is unlikely. She cites the small Caribbean nation of Barbados, where 98% of adults are literate despite rampant poverty – a result, Yearwood notes, of the importance of being educated that is ingrained in their values. Good points – teacher bashing and revolving doors of school policies, leaders, and curriculum are never going to make widespread change. A commitment to creating a nationwide environment where all students are set up for success and maximum learning will require the involvement of all of us.
November 30, 2010
The New York Times has an optimistic story this morning about how the U.S. School Graduation Rate Is Rising. It’s good to celebrate when things are going in the right direction. Particularly in education where we tend to spend most of our time whining about what’s wrong instead of showing what’s going right and replicating it.
You can probably here the “but” coming. Let me number mine:
November 15, 2010
The headlines are buzzing with juicy topics that are crying out for blogs posts, and then of course there are the crazy blog posts about these juicy articles, and those crazy blog posts are also crying out to be blogged about. But I stand firm in the face of temptation. Today’s blog is about a project I’m working on that is worlds removed from the headlines. On the surface at least.
November 8, 2010
The Kingsbury Center is soliciting proposals for the fall 2010 Data Award program, which is designed to help graduate students and researchers without project funding use NWEA’s Growth Research Database (GRD) in their research. The GRD is currently being used by scholars at universities across the nation to conduct educational research. The purpose of this program is to make this exceptional resource more widely available. Applications are due December 1, 2010; please click here to learn more.
An informational webinar about this award is scheduled for Wednesday November 10, 2010 at 10 am PST. The webinar will include an overview of the data that are available and an opportunity to ask questions. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for registration information.
November 4, 2010
Public Impact, with support from the Joyce Foundation, has recently issued a report that synthesizes performance measurement best practices from private, nonprofit, and government sectors, and advises educators on how to apply them. A nice summary of how to build a foundation for a strong performance measurement system for any field. Click here to read the report.