Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lake Wobegon, Ohio

The Ohio Department of Education just posted the value added scores for public schools. I really don't know what to make of them. As reported by The Columbus Dispatch, almost twice as many districts performed above average than below average. That troubles me. Add in the color codes of the ratings where yellow -- caution -- is average growth, and I have to believe that politics is driving the process.

Given that a district must show above average growth that is statistically significant (keep in mind that statistically significant does not mean significant as generally used) in order to be considered as exceeding state-level growth expectations, I have to assume that under an honest system average growth would not be considered a yellow -- caution -- rating.

Remember, assuming that all districts improve, the average also improves. So, the system can never show all districts with above average growth. One would expect just about as many below average (red status) as above average. Of course, politics must create a system that shows some level of year-over-year improvement, even spurious improvement.

This all leads me believe that politics is inflating the scores and ratings. Otherwise, how does one explain so many above average districts, other than to say that the average is being manipulated?

That said, there are many problems with the concept and application of value added that bring the whole system into question. But, that will have to be another post.

No comments: