A Reader Writes… A Drop in Scores – Part 1

I response to the 7/17/2013 post, A Drop In Scores,” a LYS Assistant Superintendent writes:

SC,

I loved this post today and it really hit home.  Your advice was basically a page taken out of our district plan for the last two years.   Here is where the damage of the State’s “Guess what’s on the test” policy comes home to roost.  I can guarantee the following in my district:

1. Teachers worked very hard and smarter than they ever have before.

2. The scope and sequence was implemented with greater fidelity and monitored (and verified with PowerWalks) more closely than ever before.

3. Teacher instruction was at a faster pace, at a higher quality and at a higher level of rigor that ever before. 

4. We incorporated more interventions at all three levels of RTI with better supporting data than ever before.

5. We had a proactive 3-week common assessment process which guided planning and instruction, fueled by a PLC process that was implemented at a district-wide level to a degree of which I have never seen in any district.

6. We focused on writing, sent teachers to high-quality, embedded and on-going professional development, and our students spent more time writing and writing with quality at higher levels than ever before.

And what was our reward????   A kick in the groin by TEA. 

Our teacher not only gave us everything we asked for but went miles above and beyond.  They were heartbroken when they did not see the scores as high as we anticipated.  But here is the sad part…  What do those scores mean?  Well, not much.  We have been graded on an arbitrary “Met Standard” level that TEA is not quick to explain.  And what the hell has happened in writing?  Roughly half of the freshman in the state failed?  I call BS on that. 

Then people (the legislature, media and community) began to judge our new scores as if we were still operating under the old systems and old standards and demanded to know, “What went wrong?”

Well, nothing went wrong. We did a great job and our kids received a better education that ever before in our district. But that is difficult to prove when the state says 50% of freshman failed to meet “The Standard” in writing.

But for us, a silver lining has emerged from the dark clouds. Compared to state averages, our district is at, or above, state averages in almost every test at every grade level.  When I came to the district two years ago, we were not close to that position on the TAKS.  So compared to the state, we are at our highest performance level in many years… on a much more rigorous exam!

Then the surrounding district scores started leaking out and all of the sudden, the very scores we were disappointed in, now look pretty good compared to others.  That is a reason to be optimistic, excited, and celebrate.  More importantly, it is reason to not only stay the course but also continue to improve on the processes we have in place.  Last year everyone followed a tightly coupled system because we had to (Foundation Trinity and Fundamental 5).  This year, we will “make it make sense,” and continue to move forward to find better ways to prepare our students for life beyond high school.  I expect great things from my staff and students (not the state)!

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “Look at Me: A Cautionary School Leadership Tale” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/lookatmebook 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Plans (Fundamental 5 Lesson Plan Tool); PW Lite (Basic PowerWalks Tool); PW Pro (Mid-level PowerWalks Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Multiple Presentations); NASSP National Conference 
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Reader’s Request… Getting Ready for Kickoff
A Reader Writes… What Do You Really Think – Part 2

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