Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Credit where due

I'll give credit where it's of the stupider aspects of the MCAS was modified today.

Up until now, schools have been ranked by comparing the test scores of this year's students with the test scores of last year's students. A school was judged on how the scores changed from year to year. Whether the change happened because of the quality of the school's teaching, or the intrinsic skills and gaps of the students being educated, never came up. Schools and districts were judged on their ability to get better scores from different students.

Naturally, people without their heads up their a-- have been pointing out from the beginning that it would be more accurate to measure the growth of a certain class of students, something often called "longitudinal study". Now, schools and districts are judged on their ability to get better scores from the same students. Today, about 16 years after the law that birthed the MCAS passed, it's starting to happen.

Of course, lest too much common sense break out at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education at once, this new method will merely "complement" the old (misleading) method and will be "rolled out" over a few years.

I'll finish by noting two things:
1. This move was finalized before Paul Reville came on board, so he gets limited credit for the obvious idea...though I suppose good for him that he didn't kill it;
2. It's pretty sad that any time common sense breaks out about the MCAS it gets a banner headline.

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