I blogged earlier about the obvious inflation in the 2016 Unbridled Learning high school ratings for Kentucky. Let’s look at the elementary and middle school information.
Table 1 shows the Unbridled Learning classification averages for elementary schools from 2012 to 2016. It also shows the individual proficiency rates for the various academic subjects tested in the program along with my calculation of the overall averages of those academic scores. The data shown with white background come from Kentucky Department of Education News Release 16-115. The numbers with yellow backgrounds are my calculations.
Notice that when Unbridled Learning began, the percentage of schools being classified as Proficient or Distinguished was generally much lower than the proficiency rates being posted for the related academic subjects. Comparing the overall average academic proficiency in 2012 to the school classification percentage shows a difference of 18.9 percentage points in favor of the academic average.
Also note that the overall average academic score in 2014 was higher than the 2016 score.
Flash forward to 2016 and the percentage of schools classified as proficient or more is now 8.9 percentage points higher than the overall academic average. That is a change from 18.9 points behind to 8.9 points ahead of the test score averages – a relative change of nearly 28 points in just four years. That is pretty difficult to accept.
Most importantly, the overall academic average barely budged, moving up from 49.6 percent in 2012 to only 51.7 percent in 2016 – a change of just 2.1 percentage points.
Even more disturbing, between 2014 and 2016 the overall academic performance actually declined by 2.3 points from 54.0 percent proficiency to 51.7 percent. Meanwhile, between 2014 and 2016 the percentage of Kentucky’s elementary schools classified as Proficient or above in Unbridled Learning soared from 48.5 percent to 60.6 percent, a rise of 12.1 points.
The elementary school Unbridled Learning school classification trends look inflated to me.
Table 2 shows the middle school results.
The middle school results basically mirror what we find in the elementary school data. Again, this is inflated, too.
Of course, neither the elementary nor middle school inflation looks as bad as the high school situation I blogged about earlier, but both of the lower level schools’ results have clearly become inflated, too.
So, my advice is to generally ignore the Unbridled Learning classification stuff. It is all being phased out next year, anyway.
Instead, check the test scores. Not only are they simpler to understand, but they also don’t seem to have nearly so much inflation.
In fact, looking at the test scores indicates we have not made much progress at all in the time since 2012 when we first started to really use Common Core State Standards to drive both our classrooms and our math, reading and writing assessments.