PAUSD metrics -- focused on just 10-15% of our young kids
Original post made by Parent on Sep 21, 2013
PAUSD is reviewing progress on some of its strategic goals on Tuesday Sept 24.
Look toward the end of this board packet for the presentation: Web Link
You can search for "strategic plan", or just skip to page 56.
The thing to notice is that each of the three strategic goals being reviewed is focused on the low scorers (10-15% of our young kids), even though it is not presented that way.
Here are the details.
The first strategic goal is clearly focused on low scorers: 95% of students will be proficient or advanced. The only way to move that metric up is to focus on the 10-15% of kids who are scoring below proficient today.
And the third goal is also clearly focused on low scorers: Reduce the percentage of students not yet proficient by 50%. Couldn't get much clearer than that, focusing on the same set of kids. I don't in fact understand why we have both those metrics.
But the interesting thing is that the second goal is also focused on the same set of kids, even though it doesn't seem it on the surface. The goal is: 85% of kids show a year's progress (or more). Naively you would think this would focus on all levels. Advanced kids need to stay advanced.
But it doesn't. The metric you might think we are measuring, that kids stay at level or move up, is already at or above 85%, for each level. Instead, the metric is defined so that kids who are at the three lowest levels (Basic or below) must move *up* a level, not stay where they are. So low scorers *must* increase their score, while it's okay for the higher scorers to stay as-is. With this version of the metric, only 53% of kids at Basic or below are making a year's progress. So that, of course, is where the focus must be to increase this metric. The kids at the other levels are doing fine by this metric.
At this point, you might think, okay, so we're focusing on the low scorers for this first review. Maybe we'll cover the "high" scorers (85-90% of the district's kids) later? Well, if you look at the Strategic Plan, it's not clear we track any meaningful metrics for all the other kids.
Look at the plan: Web Link
Page 17, which is slide 15 has the metrics.
You can see two of the metrics listed above are covered in the general "differentiated learning" section, even though they are low-scorer metrics. So what's left? Survey metrics addressed at older kids?
If I am reading this properly, we do not have a single objective metric for the vast majority (85-90%) of elementary and middle-school kids who are doing reasonably well in school (Proficient or Advanced). With the majority of kids in fact scoring Advanced, how can this be? Do we feel we are so great at educating these kids, we don't even need to measure it? Or maybe we think they don't really need a great education?
I am very concerned that our district is equating low-scoring with under-performing, and high-scoring with over-performing. That is a grievous mistake. We need to focus on all under-performing kids, equally, regardless of their native ability. All kids have a right to be challenged, and pushed to excel.
More fundamentally, we need to care enough about kids at all levels to set decent metrics and measure how they are doing. Right now, it doesn't look like PAUSD knows, or cares.
If you care, show up at the board meeting on 9/24, or send email to email@example.com
on Sep 21, 2013 at 1:41 am
STAR tests have no impact on future academic success. Two of my kids scored Below Proficient and Proficient for many years and they are at Paly now, earning "A"s and "B"s. The real problem is there are too many parents who expect kids to figure out school on their own. They need to be taught how to get organized, be responsible, and how to study. And there are many parents in Palo Alto who are overseeing their children's homework before they turn it in. There are many students who see professional tutors or are tutored by their parents. Students with disengaged parents are at a disadvantage. Schools can only do a limited amount; there is nothing a school can do if the parents don't emphasize the importance of academics at home.
on Sep 21, 2013 at 9:17 am
Indeed. If you don't think that the Board has much impact (you suggest that education is primarily in the hands of parents), and you don't think these tests matter, then this post is pretty pointless. We'd put much more of our funding in parent education, and stop the testing! It'd be interesting to think about that.
For the residents who believe that the district's decisions around budgeting and prioritization do matter, that schools do have a significant impact, and that the tests are relevant, they may care to learn that the strategic metrics we are using to direct and evaluate our performance cover just a small section of the student body.
on Sep 21, 2013 at 9:38 am