Thursday, September 23, 2010

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Backloaded No Child Left Behind
Approach Hides Progress

The Public Sees Failure

The annual release of test scores in Kentucky has befuddled parents and school observers alike. How could my school's scores go up at the same time our NCLB rating goes down? Even knowledgeable education watchers (who have forgotten the "backloaded" approach KDE chose to follow) are confused. Shouldn't we be making more progress?

But as KSN&C reported in September 2008, as 2014 approaches, more and more successful states will experience a decline in NCLB ratings while their students continue to improve.

NCLB requires states to increase the percentage of "proficient" students and then allowed the states to define what that meant. States could set their own targets.

A 2008 report by the Center on Education Policy found that almost half of the states (23 states) had backloaded their trajectories for reaching 100% proficiency. In other words, they called for smaller achievement gains in the earlier years of the trajectory and much steeper gains in later years, as 2014 grows nearer. Welcome to the later years.

(How backloading looks in California: Researchers at the University of California, Riverside used state assessment data reported for the school years 2002-2003 through 2006-2007 to project the growth in student proficiency through 2014. Data was drawn from more than 4,900 California elementary schools. The researchers used three different growth models (represented by the blue, grey and green lines) to project average annual growth in proficiency for mathematics (solid lines) and English language arts (dotted lines). Models are plotted out to 2014 to illustrate that the available data (through 2007) does not indicate the accelerated growth in proficiency required to meet legislated goals. California's benchmarks for adequate yearly progress (AYP) under No Child Left Behind are shown in the red lines.)

Another 25 states and the District of Columbia adopted a more incremental approach that assumes steadier progress toward the 100% goal. The two remaining states blended trajectories that do not fit readily into the backloaded or incremental categories.

Some states assumed that they would need a few years to implement new testing programs. Some states wanted to give school districts more time to ensure that curriculum and instruction were aligned with state tests and that teachers received the necessary professional development. Some states felt that the positive effects of these efforts, as reflected in higher student test scores, would be more likely to appear in the out years than in the early years.

But the more likely reason for the backloaded approach was a calculated gamble.

A 2003 report from the National Education Association speculated that states were backloading large increases after the law’s scheduled reauthorization, in 2010, in the hope that the 100% proficiency goal would be relaxed. Oooops.

Results of this year's testing were mixed. KDE reported the best news they could, one supposes:


NCLB Status Data indicate that 55.6 percent ‑ 640 ‑ of Kentucky's 1,151 accountable public schools made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in the 2009-10 school year under the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act...

According to the data, 640 Kentucky public schools met 100 percent of their NCLB goals for AYP, while 511 schools did not. Of the 511 schools that did not make AYP, 178 made 80 percent or more of their goals. Statewide, 60 percent ‑ 15 ‑ of the 25 target goals were met.

Schools and districts that are funded by the federal Title I program, which provides funds to ensure that disadvantaged children receive opportunities for high-quality educational services, will be subject to federal consequences if they do not make AYP in the same content area in any student group for two or more consecutive years.

Student groups in Kentucky are disaggregated by ethnicity, low-income (eligibility for free/reduced-price meals) status and those with disabilities and limited-English proficiency. Statewide, 134 schools are subject to consequences outlined through
· 55 Title I schools are in first-year School Improvement consequences.
· 21 Title I schools are in second-year School Improvement consequences.
· 17 Title I schools are in first-year Corrective Action consequences.
· 11 Title I schools are in second-year Corrective Action consequences.
· 5 Title I schools are in first-year Restructuring consequences.
· 7 Title I schools are in second-year Restructuring consequences.
· 17 Title I schools are in third-year Restructuring consequences
· 1 Title I school is in fifth-year Restructuring consequences.

In previous years, the levels of NCLB consequences were described as “tiers.”

Senate Bill 1, passed in the 2009 session of the Kentucky General Assembly,
requires that state accountability for non-Title I schools be based on their Adequate Yearly Progress status. If a non-Title I school does not make AYP in the same content area for two consecutive years, the school will be eligible for state assistance.

Data indicate that 168 schools are eligible for state assistance.

Of Kentucky's 174 school districts in 2009-10, 60 – 34.5 percent ‑ met 100 percent of their target goals. Of the 114 districts that did not meet all of their goals, 67 met 80 percent or more of their goals. For NCLB requirements, school districts are gauged on the total student population. This can mean that, even if every school within a district makes AYP, the district may not because of the total size of student populations and their performance.

Kentucky Core Content Test Results

Results of the 2010 administration of the Kentucky Core Content Tests (KCCT), compared to 2009, show increases in the percentage of students scoring at the highest performance levels (proficient and distinguished) in nearly every subject at the elementary and middle school grade levels. Average high school subject-area scores dipped slightly in every subject except writing on-demand.

NOTE: Average social studies scores, particularly at the elementary level, show an anomalous decrease from 2009 to 2010. This decrease can be attributed to many factors, including the shortening of the 2010 testing window, and does not appear to be a systemic or psychometric issue. KDE will continue to explore this issue...

Because of changes to student performance standards and definitions for NAPD in 2007, student performance from 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 cannot be compared to prior KCCT trends (1999-2006).

College/Career Readiness Results

This year, for the first time, KDE is reporting information related to college and career readiness for Kentucky’s public high schools.

Three main criteria are used to determine a school’s percentage of college/career-ready students:

  • number of students meeting the Council on Postsecondary Education’s system-wide benchmarks on the ACT
  • number of students meeting college placement test benchmarks (not available for 2010)
  • number of students meeting career measures standards (receipt of industry certifications)

The baseline data this year indicate that, on average, 34 percent of public high school students statewide are ready for college or careers. Readiness percentages among schools range from 3 percent to 81 percent.

2009’s Senate Bill 1 calls for schools and districts to improve the college and career readiness of their students by 50 percent by 2014. The measures reported today include improvement goals and will eventually be included in the state’s accountability system for public schools.

Achievement Gaps

Also this year, for the first time, KDE is reporting information on how schools and districts are progressing in closing achievement gaps to the goal of proficiency.

This data is derived by averaging the percentage of students scoring at proficient and distinguished in reading and mathematics, then comparing that figure to prior-year data and to the ultimate goal of 100 percent proficiency for all student groups. This measure will be included in the state’s new accountability system.

Average statewide data indicate that, for nearly every student group, the achievement gap has narrowed from 2009 to 2010. All students are expected to reach proficiency in reading and mathematics by 2014....

Detailed information on AYP, KCCT, college/career readiness, ITBS and achievement gap data of each Kentucky public school and district is available through the OpenHouse section of the KDE website.

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday softened the ground for this week's score reporting by reminding Kentuckians on his blog that NCLB's goals are "ridiculous" and faulted NCLB's "singular focus on proficiency." What Holliday did not say is that he inherited a time bomb that was made in Kentucky.

This from the Herald-Leader:

Just more than half of Kentucky's public schools are meeting academic goals required by the federal No Child Left Behind program, according to achievement test scores and other academic indicators...

And this from H-L:

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday blamed the inability of many Kentucky schools to keep pace with rising reading and math targets provided under the federal NCLB, for the decline. The targets increase by eight to 10 percent per year until 2014. Many schools fell short of the rising goals even though scores improved, he said.

This from Bluegrass Moms:

Only 34 percent of the 40,528 students who graduated from Kentucky public high schools last spring were ready for college or careers, according to test data released Thursday, a statistic the head of state schools called "abysmal."

And this:

Fayette County Public Schools students improved their scores on statewide tests but not enough to reach steadily rising requirements in reading and math, which kept 20 county schools from reaching federal No Child Left Behind goals, according to results released Thursday.

This from the News Enterprise:

LaRue County Schools met all of its goals in the 2010 No Child Left Behind reports, while about half of Elizabethtown Independent Schools and Hardin County Schools met its goals.

This from the Paducah Sun (subscription):

Paducah and McCracken County public schools experienced their ups and downs in the 2009-10 school year based on the latest round of testing scores.

This from the Courier-Journal:

No Child Left Behind's rising expectations are leaving behind more Kentucky public schools, with hundreds of schools failing to adequately to meet the math and reading standards required by the federal law.

Only 56 percent of the state's 1,158 public schools met all their goals — down from 60 percent last year and 71 percent in 2008, according to 2010 test results being released by the state.

The drop is more severe in Jefferson County Public Schools, where just 21 percent of the district's 133 schools met all their goals, compared with 37 percent last year and 44 percent in 2008.

This from C-J:

Bullitt and Oldham county saw their schools’ test results head in opposite directions under No Child Left Behind, according to state data released Thursday.

This from the Daily Independent:

The federal No Child Left Behind Act is still in effect, and Kentucky schools are inching toward proficiency goals set under that legislation, according to data released today by the Kentucky Department of Education.

This from the Messenger-Inquirer (subscription):

School assessment data released today by the Kentucky Department of Education is a mixed bag for Daviess County and Owensboro public schools.The scores, which are based on the Kentucky Core Content test, indicate elementary schools in both districts continue to perform well.But the three high schools in Owensboro and Daviess County are performing poorly overall, and in the case of Daviess County High School, showed a decline in every core content category.

This from the Enquirer:

Fifty-one of the 99 public elementary, middle and high schools, or 51.5 percent, in six Northern Kentucky counties made adequate yearly progress this year under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

This from Maysville online:

For the area, some districts fared well, such as Augusta Independent which continued to meet target goals and make adequate yearly progress, while others
fell short.

Hat Tip to KSBA.

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