Monday, May 20, 2013

Afterthoughts on DOE Grades for Schools

As we reported in several prior posts, the grades issued by Maine’s Department of Education for government schools across the state were based on a straightforward algorithm for using pre-existing publicly available results from standard test scores to derive an overall ‘letter grade’ that was more than lenient.

School department and teachers union officials were predictably outraged by this approach.  The classic response when it comes to standardized tests is that they ‘distort’ reality, because they cause education ‘professionals’ to ‘teach to the test’ so that scores are maximized at the expense of true learning.

Suppose for a moment that this assertion is true.  Brunswick’s three schools that were graded received two B’s and one C.

If this is the result when ‘teaching to the test’ is the norm, imagine what the scores and results would be if professionals did not ‘teach to the test.’

Would test scores be so low as to result in composite grades of C, or D, or even worse, F?

Shouldn’t we at least expect that if we ‘teach to the test,’ that resulting scores are artificially higher than if we did not ‘teach to the test?’

Does anyone else see a problem here?

Can you really have your cake and eat it too?

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