Letter details opposition to federal proposal defining student success on tests
CREDIT: USC ROSSIER SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
A University of Southern California professor has collected dozens of academics’ signatures on a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education John King criticizing how the federal government proposes to measure student scores on standardized tests. California’s top state education officials agree with him and may express the same point of view in a letter they’re drafting.
Morgan Polikoff says that that the proposed regulations would continue the same flawed methodology used under the federal No Child Left Behind law. An associate professor at USC’s Rossier School of Education, he suggests an alternative approach consistent with the direction the California State Board of Education is taking.
At issue is how to measure achievement in standardized tests in math and English language arts under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, the successor law to NCLB that Congress passed in December.
The proposed standard would be the number of students who score proficient in math and English language arts. Under NCLB, schools were required to gradually approach the target of 100 percent proficiency, which nearly all school schools failed to achieve, leading former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to grant most states waivers from the law’s penalties.
ESSA would not impose a hard-and-fast improvement target; states would be required to intervene in the 5 percent of the lowest-performing schools. But Polikoff and the others who signed the letter argue using the percentage of students who score proficient each year remains problematic. They say it creates incentives for schools to focus primarily on students who near proficiency rather than all students in a school and to devote less attention and resources to students who are way below proficient or who could advance to well above that level. The proficiency target also penalizes schools serving large numbers of low-performing students, since they’re not given credit for significant improvements even if they fall short of proficiency, Polikoff argues.Letter details opposition to federal proposal defining student success on tests | EdSource: