The Harlan Daily Enterprise reports “School accountability raises major questions.”
At least, that is what is happening in the Harlan County School District.
Among other things, the district is unhappy with the way the new program rates schools using a norming process rather than setting a specific performance criterion. Under this norming process, results from as many as five separate calculations based on test scores and graduation rates are mixed into one final school grade. Then all the schools get ranked for that final grade.
Those schools that fall below the 70th percentile for their final score will be classified as “Needs Improvement.” Thus, regardless of performance, 7 out of 10 schools in Kentucky are going to be rated as needing improvement.
Actually, given present school performance, even selecting the 70th percentile may be excessively undemanding.
Except for some really top-performing high schools in Kentucky, the percentages of students being adequately prepared for the mathematics required for college and careers isn’t very impressive even for the 70th percentile school.
Looking at the 2012 mathematics performance of Kentucky’s 11th grade students on the ACT, for example, the 70th percentile school, East Jessamine High School, only prepared 41.9 percent of its students well enough to be likely to avoid taking remedial math courses in college. You have to look above the 84th percentile to find schools that prepare even half of their students adequately for college and career requirements in math.
Only eight high schools in the whole state prepared two-thirds of their students adequately in math in 2012. Out of 230 high schools, that is above the 96th percentile!
I also got a big chuckle out of the article.