Friday, September 20, 2002

Spinning, Whirling, Twirling

The new "value-added" TCAP scores are in and once again it's bad news for Memphis City Schools. Try as they might, even the ever-resourceful Commercial Appeal can't spin this one into gold. It begins with the headline:

'Value-added' scores gauge student gains

Technically, this is a true statement, but it doesn't apply to MCS! They are still losing ground, as the report clearly shows. After writer Aimee Edmondson labors for eight paragraphs to soften the news and applaud effort we get to the nub:
Memphis's districtwide scores range from a disappointing 77
percent in language to 92 in social studies. The analysis is based
on how students scored on the Tennessee Comprehensive
Assessment Program achievement test. Shelby County's
value-added scores range from 107 percent in math to an
impressive 136 percent in reading.
But wait! It's not over yet. Yes, they know what's responsible:
Because the value-added scores are actually based on a
three-year average of the TCAP, Memphis remains stymied by
scores from 2000.

That was the year the district hit rock bottom on student
achievement tests.

"They were running in the mud in 2000," said education
researcher Steve Ross of the University of Memphis.

Those scores will fall off the radar with next year's three-year

"It takes a while to completely get out of that and run on hard
surface," Ross said.
That's right, it's the fault of two years ago. Damn that 2000!

Angry with standardized test scores that repeatedly and grimly show that our students are under-educated, year after year, educators devised the "value-added" system, purporting to show that students do learn, while hiding the fact that they don't learn as much as they ought to, that teachers continue to fail in the schools.
Created by then-University of Tennessee professor Bill Sanders,
value-added is meant to measure the "value" a teacher adds to
each student's performance - regardless of where that student's
achievement levels are.

In the ever-growing high-stakes testing world, more states are
following Tennessee's lead by instituting the value-added

"Schools have to take children where they are academically and
move them as far as they can each year," said Education
Commissioner Faye Taylor. "Value-added results give us a
measuring stick for that progress."
And yet again, Memphis City Shcools fall short.

This link will take you directly to the cumulative results. As you'll see, Tennessee is performing above expected norms, and Shelby County Schools are performing very, very well. But Memphis City Schools are embarrassingly poor.

Once again.

Until next time.

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