Wednesday, August 28, 2013

DOE Changes Rules for School Bonus Points

Shortchanges Schools That Made the Most Progress

Some of the schools that made the most progress in improving the achievement levels of low performing students in Louisiana public schools will be denied bonus points promised before the beginning of the school year because they have performed too well!! That's the conclusion some principals are coming to after receiving a memo from Ms Baghian of the DOE informing the schools that they would not be receiving bonus points because the improvement in their students' scores moved them to the proficient level. According to the memo, schools will get bonus points only if the students scores of the sub-groups improve but remain below the proficient level. This particularly penalizes schools that have made the most progress in improving student performance for previously low achieving students. It can actually lower the letter grades that some schools were originally qualified to receive. The following is quoted from an email sent to the DOE by Iberville Parish Superintendent, Dr Edward Cancienne: "The decision to withhold bonus points from schools that brought non-proficient students in the super subgroup to proficiency has had a negative impact on the letter grade of the individual school and on the morale of the entire Iberville Parish School System."

The original proposal approved by BESE for awarding bonus points said nothing about students in sub-groups remaining in the non-proficient category in order for their schools to receive bonus points. It simply does not make sense to change the rules after the end of the school year to penalize the schools that made the most progress in working with low performing students. The whole purpose of the new rule was to get more students performing at proficient levels.

Such a rule change, after the fact, once again demonstrates the amateur nature of the administrators at our DOE. Such erratic rule changing is destructive of the morale of the dedicated educators who are working in the real front lines of education. These people need respect and support, not silly numbers games that can adversely affect the reputations of schools and educators.

The writer of this blog is sending a letter of protest of this action to BESE and to the Education Committees of the legislature. I encourage all educators affected by this unfair action to send emails and make phone calls to BESE and the legislature. I strongly urge educators to contact their legislators about this matter because they have the power to correct this foolishness even if BESE members are not willing to act to support their own policy!


Jeremy said...

Why is anyone getting bonus points to begin with? Doesn't that skew the numbers so that they don't "accurately" reflect change? Adding bonus points to the score just because you grew (but not quite enough) changes the overall score. You're then comparing those schools who got bonus points to those that did not get bonus points. This whole system is so messed up, but this doesn't surprise me.

Anonymous said...

It does expose their novice/amateur characteristics when they make a rule, then in order to "soften the reality" of what they have been warned would happen...change the rule to more closely match what they were warned about in the first place. Example: VAM's 10% highly effective rate is now 20%, another was the fact that improving children from Unsat to AB deserves more credit than not being able to move them to Basic at all, another is the Seabough Solution, EVERY DoE lost court battle, and the list goes on and on and on, etc. Every one of these things were warnings when they decided to make it policy...I want a Super of Ed that can inspire teachers to blast through the walls of poverty instead of make them want to puke every time he opens his mouth or makes a press release...

Anonymous said...

We can discuss the usefulness of bonus points as part of a poor tool that attempts to quantify school effectiveness; however, we as schools will play by the rules of the game as they are dictated to us by the DOE.

My school "played the game" very well and was due to receive a big boost. Well, we aren't getting it b/c they changed the rules at the last minute with no explanation. If a teacher did that in his/her class, he/she would be reprimanded.

I have manipulated data in the SPS calculator today and have found that if a the group of my students would NOT have reached proficiency, our SPS would actually be higher that it will end up being. This will be the effect for many schools due to this last minute rule change.