Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Measuring Progress

Today Adequate Yearly Progress(AYP) data was published for schools in St. Paul and across Minnesota, but that doesn’t tell the story of student learning. Unfortunately the scores that get reported are rather capricious, snapshots of a day. Many people will fret over these scores nonetheless, but I will focus on some encouraging news coming out of Ohio State University. It seems researchers there have studied a value-added way of measuring student learning that is promising and relevant to what matters in education. (www.plaind.com -for the archived story- Ohio State University researchers' study suggests new way of measuring school quality, by Scott Stephens)

While their study measurement is still intensively test-based, their rationale is student based. Test a student at the beginning of the year and test them at the end of the year. The end of the year measurement is then used to determine how well that school year went. When the student returns the next fall, the beginning of the school year test will be used to measure student learning over the summer or flag any student loss of learning over the summer so it can be corrected as soon as possible. This could be powerful information to a teacher just starting with the student in organizing group work, individualized instruction, and enrichment opportunities.

The test scores published today don't deserve the word adequate. Unless you like to punish people, then I suppose it is adequate.

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