More than 30 years ago, the eminent social scientist Donald T. Campbell warned about the perils of measuring effectiveness via a single, highly consequential indicator:
“The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”
High-stakes testing is exactly the kind of process Campbell worried about, since important judgments about student, teacher, and school effectiveness often are based on a single test score. This exaggerated reliance on scores for making judgments creates conditions that promote corruption and distortion. In fact, the overvaluation of this single indicator of school success often compromises the validity of the test scores themselves. Thus, the scores we end up praising and condemning in the press and our legislatures are actually untrustworthy, perhaps even worthless.This from the Courier-Journal:
The principal of Louisville Male High School has been reassigned to the central office pending the outcome of a new investigation — this time into improper testing practices involving the ACT.
David Mike, who took over as principal at Male last year, was notified of his reassignment on Friday and reported to the student assignment division of the central office on Monday, said Ben Jackey, a spokesman for Jefferson County Public Schools.
The move came after Jennifer Geraets, a senior investigator with ACT, sent Mike a letter on Thursday, informing him that in light of information obtained during an ACT investigation and previous concerns regarding the secure and fair administration of tests at Male High, he is no longer "authorized to access, administer or oversee the administration of tests for any ACT-owned or branded products, unless ACT has given written permission otherwise."
"ACT will work with the Kentucky Department of Education and Jefferson County Public Schools to implement a plan that will allow testing at (Male High) to continue while better protecting the integrity of ACT testing assets and the validity of scores," Geraets wrote.
The Kentucky Education Department began working with the ACT, the Iowa-based testing organization, to investigate possible cheating that took place on the ACT Compass Test administered last year at the school.
Students have told The Courier-Journal that a school administrator gave them answers, and when the ACT began investigating, they said Mike told them to lie.
Jackey said JCPS has been assisting the state and ACT with the investigation and will start its own investigation as soon as the state probe is complete.
JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens said Monday: "We are taking this very seriously and we are looking into the matter. The ACT letter provided us with evidence of their concern, which prompted our investigation."
Hargens also said parents can have "complete confidence" when ACT Compass Test scores come out that they are accurate because students were retested.
She said "lots of steps were taken to ensure the integrity of the test was maintained."
Nancy Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Education Department, said Monday night that the state's investigation is ongoing.
Mike is also under a separate investigation, started May 30, by JCPS for "professional behavior" that "does not involve testing" at Male High School. He had been allowed to stay at the school during that investigation, Jackey said.