A Reader Writes… (I Got a Royal Flush – Part 2)

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In response to the post, “I Got a Royal Flush! an old school LYS Principal writes:

“TPM is based upon the idea of a growth model. In general, the idea of a growth model for students is not only acceptable, but is desirable. TPM is flawed in its implementation, but it is a step in the right direction. You should be a fan of the 70% solution that TPM is. Now let’s work to make it more acceptable.”

SC Response
I am a fan of growth models, when they are appropriately administered. Unfortunately, in my opinion, TPM is driven more by a political agenda than the desire to objectively measure the performance of schools. But I digress. You suggested that I try to make the current system better. Here’s what I suggested when I was affiliated with the Agency (I was politely ignored):

1. Keep the ‘Required Improvement’ formula and rule. But, let it only impact campuses that are working towards Acceptable. Do not allow it to be used to ramp up a campus to Recognized or Exemplary. This would recognize student performance growth in tough situations.

2. Keep the ‘One Time Exception’ rule. But again, let it only impact campuses that need it to remain Acceptable. Do not allow to to be used to ramp up a campus to Recognized or Exemplary. This would allow a campus that is facing enrollment growth, changing demographics, or system revision issues the chance to self correct.

3. Use a sliding scale, commended performance requirement, based on the percentage of at-risk and economically disadvantaged students that are enrolled at the school. The less at-risk and less poor your students, the greater percentage of commended students that would be required for Recognized and Exemplary status. This would encourage schools in less difficult situations to continue to push the student performance envelope.

I do recognize that a “one size fits all” system is inheriently unfair. Remember the saying “sameness isn’t fairness.” It defininitely applies in this case. The more at-risk your setting, the tougher your row is to hoe.

My agenda (see, I admit to having one) is to objectively measure both the performance of the campus and the degree of difficulty faced by that campus. Also, what seems to have been forgotten by darn near everybody (from the Governor, to the classroom, to the man on the street) is that passing the TAKS is supposed to be the floor. Meeting minimal passing requirements should not be the end all. And regardless, that was last year; this year is a brand new ball game.

When all is said and done, here’s what I do know; if your campus defines its success by what outsiders dictate, you are leaving student success on the table.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…

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