Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Board unanimously supports growth

...though, really, the above should read something more like "Board unanimously realizes that what schools do matters," but I suspect that might be somewhat unclear: just heard that the Board of Ed today unanimously supported Commissioner Chester's recommendation that 25% of district ratings be from growth, with 75% remaining from achievement.
This despite the enormous outpouring of angst from the Mass Charter Association, who have been aghast at the notion that they might possibly need to move their operations into suburbs, of all places, where, among other things, parents might have the organizations to keep them out. And despite the apocalyptic stylings of those like Jim Stergios, who are convinced that not giving charter schools a free hand...will do what, exactly?
Last year, after several years of stagnation, the percentage of Massachusetts third-graders who scored proficient or advanced on MCAS reading tests fell to its lowest level since 2009. At 57 percent, the portion of third-graders reading at or above the proficient level is 10 points lower than it was in 2002. 
...all while we were continuing to expand charter schools, who were somehow the magical answer that were going to create competition to make everyone better. So that's clearly working well.
Yes, that last is sarcasm.
Look, it's pretty straightforward: measuring schools based on what kids come in with is wrong. It's unfair, it's inaccurate, and it's not useful. More than anything else, that's what "achievement" scores do.
Growth scores, for all their flaws (and they are many) at least get us away from the "born on third base, think you hit a triple" evaluation method. Wherever you start from, you start there; the question is how far you get from that point.
And, just a reminder: we do it with everybody, unlike the charter schools.

My thanks to the Board of Education for a good decision today. 

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