Friday, September 9, 2016

Low Test Score: Get the Hell Out - More Victims of High Stakes Testing - The Washington Post

School informed parents of low-performing students they could opt out of state tests - The Washington Post:

School informed parents of low-performing students they could opt out of state tests

As schools were busy readying students for state exams, teachers at Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology, a high-poverty school in Alexandria, were poring over data to determine which students would probably not do well on the tests.
But according to a school district investigation, the effort wasn’t aimed at giving those students extra help. Instead, Principal Brandon Davis allegedly told teachers this spring to call the parents of students who appeared on the brink of failing the exams to inform them of their right to opt out of the tests, according to the investigation. Three dozen parents decided to pull their children from the state Standards of Learning exams; no parents at the school had done so the previous year.
The move, which meant those students’ scores would not be considered for state accreditation purposes, probably artificially inflated the school’s overall performance and masked the fact that some students were not performing up to standards. It also means the data used to evaluate the school is potentially flawed and presents evidence that a new Virginia law allowing students to opt out of tests without it affecting a school’s rating could compromise the ability to assess schools.
The findings of the report, which the Virginia Department of Education released to The Washington Post on Thursday, come a week before the state publishes its accreditation ratings. The state Department of Education reported that there has been a rise in the number of opt-outs as a result of the new Virginia law.
Alexandria school officials said Davis told teachers “to identify students who may not do well on the SOL test, and contact parents of these students regarding their right to refuse SOL testing.” The students whose parents were contacted had scored 425 or below on exams; a 400 is the passing rate.
Helen Lloyd, a spokeswoman for the district, said that teachers told parents only about their right to opt out and about the state law, passed in the spring, which would mean their child’s score of zero would not negatively impact the school’s accreditation rating. The report does not explain why Davis would instruct teachers to place calls only to parents of students who were on the brink of failing.
Lloyd said Davis was disciplined, but declined to comment further, citing personnel confidentiality. Davis remains the principal at Cora Kelly.
“ACPS regrets that this happened,” Superintendent Alvin L. Crawley said in a statement Thursday. “ACPS believes the principal exercised poor judgment, and we took the appropriate actions as a result.”
Davis did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement released in July in response to inquiries from the Alexandria Gazette Packet — which reported that Davis was being School informed parents of low-performing students they could opt out of state tests - The Washington Post:

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