Data or Students?
10/27/2019 04:15:03 pm
A couple of thoughts about this post:
I largely agree with the sentiment but I think that some nuance is missing and the points are not quite stated strongly enough to drive the point home that I believe the authors are trying to make.
The congratulations that are offered are sincere, but they might be misplaced. I appreciate when someone congratulate curriculum developers and teacher for their work, but the data in question is not necessarily even correlated to curriculum or teaching. The state test for Kansas is not an impressive one and is constantly being changed and field tested. The state didn’t decide to go with the ACT, but they are still looking into that option. David Rand always makes some good points about the data that we are looking at and the variance that is in the tests which means that the same student taking the same test on a different day, might not even score in the same Level.
Not only that, but why are we getting excited at all about increased success on a meaningless test for only Math and ELA? These tests mean NOTHING for students in, or after, school. Sure they are connected to funding in some confusing ways, but this test does not help our students think better, or go and do anything else after graduation.
Another piece that has always concerned me is the leveling factor. i.e. we will have bumps because we are focusing on the test, but it will level out quickly. Last year was the first year in a long time that we have spent any time even thinking about the test due to Dr. Foust’s (and now Dr. Hookfin’s as well) focus on the test. Dr. Lane (rightfully so) put almost zero emphasis on the test and under her administration I saw us as a district move towards focusing on the whole child and Social Emotional Learning, which are much more meaningful for students, but much harder to measure in quantitative data to then call yourself a turn-around expert. (If there happened to be anyone who wanted to do that, for example.). Dr. Lane’s administration also helped in preparing our students for college and careers via Diploma+, a model now adopted by Kauffman to ensure our students were engaged in meaningful learning.
I say all of this, not to say that teachers and curriculum do not deserve congratulations, only that we should congratulate them on things that matter, not a meaningless and functionally worthless standardized test. In fact, teachers are being blamed and micromanaged MORE after these tests being improved, not less by the current administrations. Go ask a teacher or administrator who is in KCKPS this year how the micromanagement has been. The environment is abysmal.
As far as the data and discussion itself, I really appreciate the nuance that the authors applied to the state vs. superintendent questions. All of the questions are good ones, I just wish they had gone a bit further and answered them instead of leaving them rhetorical. “What is the rationale for highlighting data in such a limited way that does not appear to align with how the State Department reports results?” That is an easy answer. A superintendent is beholden to the BOE, that individual will present data in any way that will make it look as if improvements are being made in the district. Also, if that superintendent hypothetically happens to want to use KCKPS as a jumping stone to a different district, they need any data they can get to show “turn-around” is happening.
Want to know some data that is more telling? What if the board commissioned a survey of the staff right now on how they feel that they are being treated as professionals? What if we got a questions about how likely teachers are to return next year and if they are thinking about leaving, why? The tone and environment in the district right now is one of fear and I think that that starts at the very top. Want to know how to improve student outcomes that matter? Keep qualified teachers who want to grow and improve in ways that matter and help them do that.
Another rhetorical question: “Thinking even more broadly, are results on a single assessment the only thing that matters when determining progress of our school district?” No, no, all the no! This is one of the worst metrics that any school can use to determine progress. Unless you care more about data that can be presented than you do the students themselves.
This Blog is being generated by a group of citizens invited by USD 500 to participate as a Citizen's Advisory Committee during the Bond Issue campaign. This group continues to be involved in supporting USD 500 and watching the results from the successful Bond election. This Blog is best read from the bottom/oldest post to the to/newest post.