Tuesday, September 24, 2013
A Startling Development in Student Achievement Levels
I have done quite a bit of research into the various school districts offering 4K and our own district's results on the school and district report cards in the last week. One thing I have found that is a big red flag for me is the pervasive loss in achievement level of the Advanced learners. In nearly every case I studied, the number of kids losing achievement level from Advanced to Proficient or Basic usually accounts for over half of the kids formerly at the Advanced level. The DPI does not take most of this into account because these kids are still considered Proficient and have not descended into Basic or Minimal achievement levels. They also don't track those that fall from Basic to Minimal because that is how the metric works. Only changes from Basic and Minimal to Proficient and Advanced or vice versa are counted in the percent changing category. This practice enables the districts to completely ignore Advanced Learners because there is no ding on the report cards for this loss, save a half point per kid bonus they get for kids in the Advanced category. Similarly, a loss in level form Basic to Minimal isn't considered for the analysis. There is also a half-point loss per kid for that change as well. The districts must be banking on the kids improving from Basic to Proficient (half point gain) and Minimal to Basic (also half point gain) to offset the losses. A numbers game is being played out with our kids' educations and this needs to stop. It's pretty clear that those in charge of developing the metrics have a vast stake in making sure kids in Wisconsin remain in the hugely mediocre middle levels. Lip service is being paid to creating critical thinkers because many of those Advanced Learners are the ones who begin to develop critical thinking skills at an early age. If your public school stomps it out of them by the time they are 7 years old, all you will have left is a bunch of automaton followers and no leaders with creative vision, not all that different from the administration of our complacent schools. Keep an eye on your kids' achievement level and hold his or her teachers to the district promise that each kid will gain a years worth of achievement level for a year of instruction. We will be watching like a hawk.