From The Thinking Conservative Blog –
As anyone who has ever had more than a five second conversation with me regarding the purpose of assessment in our schools knows, it is my whole-hearted belief that it should be growth-oriented and used for formative purposes. For all of the somewhat scattered nature of our accountability model in Mississippi, one of its strengths is the weight it puts upon growth in student achievement. Without getting too deep into a different topic, I would also say that one of the primary faults of the accountability model is that the growth it focuses upon is too heavily weighted on the “bottom quartile” (the bottom 25% of test-takers in the current school year based upon their scores from the previous year in language arts or mathematics) and leaves science, as well as U.S. History, standing alone without a needed means to determine growth. But, I will save that topic for another day. Today, I am simply referencing that growth in performance of individual students from year to year, whether the bottom quartile or the whole, is an extremely large element of the accountability model which determines the school and school district’s accountability level and letter grade (A-F). Yes, growth in language arts and mathematics is extremely significant and vitally important. As mentioned earlier, performance on science (5th, 8th, and Biology I) and U.S. History assessments are also key factors in determining how well our districts and individual schools are performing. This begs the question then, why does the Mississippi Department of Education not make any of this information (English/language arts growth, mathematics growth, Biology I scores, or U.S. History scores) available to the public at all from the data for the previous year? With all of the fanfare and publicity that is given when MAAP language arts and mathematics achievement scores come out for the state and with the subsequent very public publishing of those results for each school and district, what happened to the growth and scores in these other subjects which make up a much larger portion of the grade designation with which each school and district will be labeled?