Monday, December 2, 2013

School Grading System for 2012-13; "Quite A Mess"

Independent education researcher, Herb Bassett has produced his annual report on the Louisiana SPS and school grading system and has characterized this year's school grading system by the LDOE as "Quite a mess".
Mr Bassett has sent his analysis of this past year's school grading system to all members of the House and Senate Education Committees and to BESE members. Let's hope they will actually read the report and consider appropriate legislative action to correct the flaws in the system.

You may access each of the documents in the report by clicking here for Bassett's primary report and here for additional resources and examples..

Mr Bassett's report shows how the use of the new bonus point system by our Louisiana Department of Education has produced several glaring injustices in the resulting grades for schools across the state.

The following is the cover letter for the SPS Report by Mr Bassett:

To: Members of the House Education Committee,
Members of the Senate Education Committee,
BESE Members,
I present the attached report on the 2013 School Performance Scores issued by LDOE. To put it bluntly, they are quite a mess. In its attempt to redefine excellence, LDOE created a system that failed to reward high performing schools and gave a significant boost to low performing schools without requiring greater performance.
I do understand that it is the responsibility of BESE and LDOE to define through the formulas what an A school is and what a failing school is. They have the right and the responsibility to set performance standards, and to change them when necessary.
However, any assessment system must apply to all schools equally, and even more importantly, higher performance must yield higher scores. If, when all other factors are held constant, a student's making a higher assessment score causes the school's final performance score to go down, the system is flawed.
When that problem is pervasive and introduced into the system in more than one way, the system is a failure.
I have found that:
1. Under the flawed Bonus Points rules, many schools that moved students from non-proficiency to proficiency across years received a final SPS lower than if they had not improved those students as much;
2. Sixteen high schools that met the qualifications for Top Gains ($8500) lost that status and reward because of a capricious rule recommended by LDOE. Three schools, had they made less growth, would have earned the rewards.
3. LDOE changed the Bonus Points rules (Bulletin 111 Section 301. D.) three times between the issuance of last year's SPSs and this year's. One change actually inverted the scoring method so that students who had scored Unsatisfactory earned twice as many points as students who had scored Approaching Basic.
4. The Bonus Points rules were designed to boost F and D schools through the "number or percent" formulation and the scoring inversion. The scoring inversion favored RSD schools over the state average.
5. Bonus Points, as an indicator of a school's performance with non-proficient students, show that D and F schools are considerably better at improving non-proficient students than A and B schools. Awarding school choice and vouchers based on school letter grades is not supported by the data.
6. Over $1.4 million in Top Gains rewards were based on schools earning ten Bonus Points through the rules designed to boost F and D schools. One third of schools with Growth scores of F and D earned the ten Bonus Points required for Top Gains. (Some of these were disqualified through subgroup component failure.)
Attached are two documents. The 2013 SPS Report Bassett document provides explanation of the above. The second document 2013 SPS Report Additional document includes extended remarks about the myriad changes to the Bonus Points rules made by LDOE this year.
Mr. White and LDOE now ask for increased liberty in handling the school assessment system. I ask that instead, you provide greater controls and oversight.

Herb Bassett
Grayson, LA


James Finney said...

Thanks, Michael, for sharing Mr. Bassett's excellent work.

Anonymous said...

I read Mr. Bassett's report. It was very insightful and well researched. Let's hope it is well read.