***Post Written by Scott McQuire, Elections Chair for WSPA***
Lets define the terms – Achieve adequately, sufficient progress, and educational performance is adversely effected.
This task seems easily enough to achieve since we are used to dealing with data, cut scores, labels, and classifications but why do we not have an operational definition, at least one that we can use as a guideline for each school or grade?
We think about these terms in most every evaluation that we perform but do we just know what it is when we see it or do we collect and compare data? Is there a normal distribution curve or cut score that will tell us who is and is not meeting the state approved grade level standards? Which and how many of the state standards would a student be required to meet? In our district, for example we have hundreds of K-12 “guaranteed learning standards”. In language arts alone there are 176 standards, between 3 to 10 standards for each K-8 grade level and 125 for the high school level classes. I have been told by elementary teachers that report card grades do not reflect a true picture of whether a student is successful or not, on the other hand, grades are all that matters in the high school setting. How many consecutive quarters of “low” district assessment data would qualify to be considered insufficient progress? On the state test, is a student under achieving when they score Basic or Below Basic? What happens when you have inconsistent data? These are difficult questions to answer and I think there should be room for individual interpretation but let’s get a little more concrete with our terms.
If we look at the data share out information that the WDE distributes every year we know that between 10-20% of the student enrollments are on an IEP. It makes sense that we would likely want to consider students who perform in the bottom 10-20% on certain academic measurements as students who need additional support and rule out those students for a Learning Disability assessment that perform above say the 25th %tile which on our assessments is well in the average range. Here is where a “convergences of evidence” would happen. Find out what are the teacher’s concerns? Are the concerns backed up by existing data such as historical performance, grades, state and district assessments, and any intervention sources? With a rating system for each data point a more objective definition can be used. If we could define “sufficient” progress then our evaluations would be useful in supporting the exiting data and there would be fewer “surprises” at the MDT meetings.