When we talk about test scores …

Talk about test scores is often imprecise, writes Matthew DiCarlo on Shanker Blog. For example, “schools with high average test scores are not necessarily ‘high-performing,’ while schools with lower scores are not necessarily ‘low-performing’,” he writes.

As we all know, tests don’t measure the performance of schools. They measure (however imperfectly) the performance of students.

Instead, to the degree that school (and teacher) effectiveness can be assessed using testing data, doing so requires growth measures, as these gauge (albeit imprecisely) whether students are making progress, independent of where they started out and other confounding factors.

This should be obvious, but doesn’t seem to be.
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  1. Mr. DiCarlo, if he’s trying to cast some light on the discussion, would be better served by first identifying the recipient of those test scores since different parties have different information needs, differing goals and differing demands on the data.

    If I’m a passenger on an airliner a simple, three-light display, labeled “Arriving on time”, “Arriving late” and “Kiss your ass goodbye” will tell me everything I need to know. If I’m the pilot of the airliner I’ll probably want my information parsed in different ways. If I’m the CFO of the airline my information needs are different yet.

    So, who’s panting with anticipation at the thought of this information showing up? Nail that down and determining the precision, timeliness, accuracy and nature of the information becomes a worthwhile task. If you don’t have a specific recipient for the information then you’re just playing games.