State Board of Education weakens School Achievement Index
On July 10 and 11, the 15 member State Board of Education, led by Chairman Jeff Vincent, voted to weaken Washington’s School Achievement Index, as reported here and here. Members have decided to shift the weight of the assessment of school performance from whether students are actually learning at grade level, to measuring student growth, a much easier standard for school administrators.
With this vote, Washington’s State Board of Education will now skew elementary and middle school performance measures to 60% for student growth and only 40% for student proficiency. This revision adopts elements of Colorado’s student growth model. Researchers are finding that Colorado’s use of student growth over student proficiency has not helped students learn.
Below is a chart from “Commentary: Our unhealthy obsession with growth” which shows the effects in Colorado of this misplaced focus on student growth. The chart shows the trajectory of the Denver Public School graduating class of 2013 over the past seven years, as measured by both median growth percentiles (MGP) and the percentage of students who are proficient or advanced (PPA) on the state's tests. Student growth improves while student proficiency declines. By the end of high school, only 33% of these students have the skills and information they will need to succeed after high school, or be ready for college or the work place.
This report finds: “What is clear in the chart is that Denver can celebrate academic growth for years to come without making much progress in the exit-level proficiency of students. And that is simply not the right direction. Growth is means, not end.”
This vote by the State Board of Education takes Washington schools in the wrong direction, and parents are losing a valuable measure of whether their school is educating children. Administrators will celebrate student growth for years to come, while leaving students unprepared for life beyond high school.