Colvin: It’s time for a new measure of student growth

California should scrap its Academic Performance Index, set up in 1999, argues Richard Lee Colvin for Education Sector.

The API . . .  is, “to a large extent, an indicator of students’ wealth rather than of a school’s educational quality.” It places overwhelming emphasis on math and reading, which results in an under-emphasis on science and social studies. And because more than 40 percent of California schools have API scores at or above the state minimum, they no longer have to worry about helping students who are not yet proficient reach that goal. That means that schools that enroll more affluent and better performing students could rest on the laurels of their students and let the quality of teaching slide.

No Child Left Behind’s proficiency deadline and the coming shift to Common Core assessments make this the time to devise a system that relies more heavily on student growth, Colvin writes. While the new measure is being debugged, the state could continue to report API numbers, he suggests.

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  1. Deirdre Mundy says:

    If you have a good grasp of Math and Reading, you can pick up the other stuff…

  2. California actually has a “similar schools” ranking that compares test scores with 100 other schools in the state with a similar demographic profile. That’s how we learned that our neighborhood school is actually underperforming. It has a statewide ranking in the top 10%, but a “similar schools” ranking in the bottom 20%.

  3. Is this education, or CalvinBall? “Time out, rule change, we’re going to keep score a different way!”