Pro­jec­tion mea­sure for tests to be re­viewed

Pass­ing those ex­pected to catch up later draws re­buke from law­maker

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Melissa B. Taboada

Fac­ing sting­ing crit­i­cism, the Texas Ed­u­ca­tion Agency may re­tool or elim­i­nate the prac­tice of count­ing as pass­ing stu­dents who fail state-man­dated tests but who are ex­pected to pass in later years.

The Texas Pro­jec­tion Mea­sure was first used last year and gives schools credit un­der the Texas and fed­eral aca­demic ac­count­abil­ity sys­tems for stu­dents who don’t pass the Texas As­sess­ment of Knowl­edge and Skills but are ex­pected to do so within three years.

In a let­ter sent Thurs­day to district ad­min­is­tra­tors through­out the state, Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sioner Robert Scott said that he will re­view the mea­sure be­cause stu­dents’ and ed­u­ca­tors’ “hard work is be­ing over­shad­owed by crit­i­cism of the use of TPM for state ac­count­abil­ity pur­poses.”

Scott could not be reached for com­ment Fri­day. In the let­ter, he asked for feed­back on sev­eral op­tions, in­clud­ing the sus­pen­sion of the mea­sure­ment, con­tin­ued use of the mea­sure­ment for dis­tricts that choose to and mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the mea­sure­ment’s cal­cu­la­tion.

See ED­U­CA­TION, A

Con­tin­ued from A

Reached by phone Fri­day, state Rep. Scott Hochberg, chair­man of an ap­pro­pri­a­tions sub­com­mit­tee over­see­ing the ed­u­ca­tion bud­get, called Scott’s pro­pos­als “lip­stick on a pig.”

“You don’t make an in­valid mea­sure valid by do­ing less of it. I think we should start from scratch and de­velop a real mea­sure of the progress stu­dents make in schools,” said Hochberg, a Hous­ton Demo­crat. “That’s what this is sup­posed to be, but it never mea­sured progress.”

Test per­for­mance for 2010 im­proved in ev­ery sub­ject for ev­ery stu­dent group, agency of­fi­cials said. Hochberg was among those at a hear­ing last week who ques­tioned whether the mea­sure is pro­vid­ing an overly sunny pic­ture of school per­for­mance.

Of 74 school dis­tricts statewide that were newly rated ex­em­plary last year, 73 of them were so rated un­der the state ac­count­abil­ity sys­tem be­cause the pro­jec­tion mea­sure lifted their pass­ing rates.

In the Austin school district, eight schools were rated aca­dem­i­cally un­ac­cept­able last year, but 11 would have re­ceived the rank­ing with­out the pro­jec­tion mea­sure.

Based on this year’s pre­lim­i­nary data, Austin of­fi­cials es­ti­mate that with the mea­sure in place, only East­side Me­mo­rial Green Tech High will be deemed aca­dem­i­cally un­ac­cept­able, the state’s low­est rat­ing, when of­fi­cial re­sults are an­nounced later this month. How­ever, with­out the mea­sure, of­fi­cials said four ad­di­tional schools prob­a­bly would re­ceive the aca­dem­i­cally un­ac­cept­able rat­ing: East­side Me­mo­rial Global Tech High School and Gar­cia, Men­dez and Burnet mid­dle schools.

Any changes to the pro­jec­tion mea­sure­ment would not af­fect the 2010 rat­ings.

Hochberg has cited an ex­am­ple us­ing the mea­sure in which a fourth-grader who earned a zero on the writ­ing test could count as pass­ing if he or she had barely pass­ing scores on the math and read­ing tests.

“I think it re­ally in­di­cates a prob­lem with de­ci­sion-mak­ing at the agency, be­cause it looks like we’re right back at toss­ing out op­tions — none of which have been tested for va­lid­ity — and say­ing, ‘Let’s just pick one from the list,’ ” Hochberg said. “I don’t have any­thing against ask­ing ad­min­is­tra­tors for in­put, ob­vi­ously, but we’ve clearly es­tab­lished that the TPM is not a mea­sure­ment for growth.”

Scott’s let­ter also de­tails the new statewide achieve­ment test, called the State of Texas As­sess­ments of Aca­demic Readi­ness, which will re­place the 7-year-old TAKS in the 2011-12 school year. The new tests will start count­ing to­ward cam­pus rat­ings in 2012-13.

The new tests will con­tain more test­ing items; 12 end-of-course ex­ams will re­place cur­rent high school tests; and in third through eighth grades, the STAAR will be linked to readi­ness ex­pec­ta­tions for the Al­ge­bra II and English III end-of-course as­sess­ments.

In the let­ter, Scott said, “TEA will eval­u­ate all op­tions avail­able for com­put­ing growth or the de­gree to which a stu­dent is on track to suc­ceed in a sub­se­quent grade or course as part of the devel­op­ment of the new STAAR as­sess­ment pro­gram.

“Op­tions for how the stu­dent progress mea­sure de­vel­oped for STAAR will be used in the new ac­count­abil­ity sys­tem will be con­sid­ered as part of the ac­count­abil­ity devel­op­ment process,” Scott said.

Hochberg crit­i­cized Scott for not pledg­ing that the state won’t use the mea­sure in the fed­eral aca­demic ac­count­abil­ity sys­tem and for not hav­ing “con­ceded that the TPM doesn’t do what it says it does.”

“I’m still not re­ally sure they get it,” Hochberg said.

Robert Scott Ed­u­ca­tion chief is ask­ing for feed­back.

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