Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It isn’t how you take the test, it’s how it’s scored that counts: DECILE RANKINGS + MODIFIED SCORING FOR SPECIAL ED ON THE BLOCK

Plans emerge to replace decile ranking system

By Kimberly Beltran, SI&A Cabinet Report – News & Resources http://bit.ly/18YkJH

Feds propose eliminating scores from modified testing as part of AYP

By Tom Chorneau, SI&A Cabinet Report – News & Resources http://bit.ly/13WE1Pt

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

In what might be the next step in revising California’s system for evaluating student performance, the state board of education is scheduled to consider next week two options for replacing the existing decile ranking system.

Legislation approved last year requires the California State Board of Education in conjunction with the California Department of Education and advisory groups to develop an evaluation matrix that does not rely as much as test scores by including other indicators such as college and career readiness.

As part of that work, members of the Public Schools Accountability Act Advisory Committee are offering two new methods of comparing schools statewide: a numeric model and a descriptive model.

Schools now receive two decile ranks based on their API scores: One that shows how each one measures up to all other schools in the state and one relative to 100 other schools with similar pupil demographics.

Both of the proposed new systems would be grounded in four key components: absolute performance, educational challenges, growth over time and student group achievement.

The numeric model, would be similar to how the state’s Academic Performance Index is currently presented – with school, district and county level data expressed as a number.

The descriptive model would rely on a five star system – like a restaurant rating. The approach here would be to present the data in a format that is more familiar to parents and the public. For example, five stars can be used to create 10 rating options in a category by using half star increments, according to a staff report.

The proposal comes forward as only one piece in a highly complex puzzle of public policy as the state ushers in new academic content standards, new assessments and indeed new methods of measuring success.

Although the Legislature is providing $1.25 billion to K-12 schools in the current budget to help with transitioning to the new common national standards in math and English language arts – legislation that would implement the new testing system appears to be the subject of negotiations between legislative leaders, the Brown administration and state schools chief Tom Torlakson.

Last year lawmakers adopted legislation to change the API, reducing its focus on student test scores from 100 percent of the index to 60 percent. The remaining 40 percent of the formula – now being developed by the advisory committee – must be calculated using graduation rates and other indicators that show how well a student completing high school is ‘college and career ready.’

But the task has proved challenging. Finding indicators supported by ‘valid and reliable’ data has been difficult as has configuring a workable formula for using those indicators as a measure of school success.

The decile ranking system is used for a variety of purposes including determining school eligibility for some funding programs.

Monday, August 26, 2013

As part of a long-standing and controversial commitment to holding all students to challenging content and achievement standards, the Obama administration proposed late last week ending a practice allowing states to use scoring on modified assessments for students with disabilities as part of their overall performance calculation.

The so-called “two-percent” rule permits states to develop alternative testing for special education students and use some of those results for accountability purposes under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Currently, the maximum number that states can count toward their proficiency benchmark is 2 percent of students in the grades assessed using the alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards.

In a proposal published in the Federal Registry Aug. 23, the U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan would do away with the rule and require students with disabilities who had been taking the modified assessments to transition to the new national curriculum standards and general testing by the 2014-15 school year.

With the action, the department opened a 45-day public comment period.

“We have to expect the very best from our students and tell the truth about student performance, to prepare them for college and career,” Duncan said in a statement. “That means no longer allowing the achievement of students with disabilities to be measured by these alternate assessments aligned to modified achievement standards. This prevents these students from reaching their full potential, and prevents our country from benefitting from that potential.”

The idea is likely to provoke much debate within the disability community, which has long supported the concept of inclusion within the education system but also has vigorously protected the rights of students to receive appropriate accommodations especially when it comes to high-stakes testing.

In California the alternative test is called the California Modified Assessment and about 200,000 students take it each year.

While some critics of the 2 percent rule have accused the state and school districts of allowing too many students to take the modified test as a means of inflating proficiency rates, the qualification decision is made by a student’s individualized education planning team, which includes parents and teachers.

As part of its announcement, the U.S. Department of Education said that research shows that struggling students with disabilities make academic progress when provided with appropriate supports and instruction.

“More accessible general assessments, in combination with such supports and instruction for students with disabilities, can promote high expectations for all students, including students with disabilities, by encouraging teaching and learning to the academic achievement standards measured by the general assessments,” the department’s release said.

Under the proposed regulations, states already administering alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards will be required to terminate the practice after the 2013–14 school year.

To view the proposal visit:


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