National Tests Show Progress

by Rene Garrett

Evaluating Student Progress and Success at APS
Concerning the release today (9/14/17) of the State Report Card in Ohio, please take note that in Akron Public Schools, MAP tests are used to develop our own assessments of progress. We find the State Report Card not reflective of actual student progress.

Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is a national test that has been standardized, using the same parameters year after year so as to allow for real, measurable results.

Ohio's report card has changed its parameters in each of the past four years, making it impossible to track progress. This is akin to comparing apples to bananas with the state report card. Using nationally standardized MAP testing, we have been able to measure and track our progress.

Following is a link to MAP, so you may see how the tests are formulated. We feel it is important for APS to convey to you that we are not averse to being evaluated. We do, however, want to be evaluated fairly: https://www.nwea.org/assessments/map/ 

APS believes state report cards that are dependent upon different companies creating and issuing the tests and "measurable results" that change annually are not effective ways to evaluate student progress.

Our MAP test results have shown, in percentiles (ranked against the rest of the nation), that APS students have made progress in every area, jumping from (in most cases) 2013 results that showed our students primarily with percentile ranks in the low 20s or 30s in reading and math to now showing our kids with percentile ranks in the high 30s to high 40s.  Students are considered to be in average on MAP between the 25th percentile to the 75th percentile.

In terms of tracking progress and performance, this national standardized testing, consistent year after year, allows us to do an apples-to-apples comparison that shows steady growth and progress. Measurable numbers reflect where our kids are ranked nationally. Instead of giving a grade card report (A-F) based upon a moving target of shifting data, this gives the direct numbers that rank our students with the rest of our country's students.

You may see coverage in the news media and know that it is simpler for the media to report this story saying our schools are receiving a particular grade. It is more complicated to delve into percentiles (such as an improvement from 30th to better than 40th in three years), but this is the accurate way to tell the public how we are performing.

We are also linking you to a segment from Monday's (9/11/17) APS Board of Education meeting where Ellen McWilliams-Woods, Ph.D., our deputy superintendent, did a crystallized presentation to the board of why MAP testing works for evaluative purposes AND showing you graphic results from 2013-17.  

We believe this gives our families a perspective on this entire process that they might not receive through traditional news coverage. We feel it is a disservice for anyone to be giving our parents skewed, unfounded information on student performance with a basic report card grade ... and more accurate to show how our own, nationally recognized results are better -- more accurate.  

As for the issuance of the annual report card today, again this year, the state changed testing requirements and the report card. In 2015, Ohio implemented new, more rigorous tests that resulted in all schools across the state having test scores drop typically by 15 to 30 points and report cards drop typically by two letter grades.  

Deputy Superintendent McWilliams-Woods pointed out the MAP testing measurements that the district took from 2014 to 2017 showed student performance in a different and better light.  

“MAP testing evaluates students’ achievement percentile levels on state tests instead of the percentage of their passage rate. It ranks our kids against thousands of others nationwide. In those tests, we perform much better.” McWilliams-Woods added, “Those graphs showed improved performance across all subject and grade levels in the past three years. These are trajectories we pay attention to so we make sure we’re improving year to year.”  

McWilliams-Woods told a meeting of the Akron Board of Education School Board September 11, 2017, that if APS keeps doing this, it will eventually get to 80 percent [passage rate] on the report card.

However, using only the state’s report card as the measure of performance, has its problems for public schools.  

Superintendent David W. James would like to see consistency in the report card metrics, saying, “Every year, the state raises the bar on the report card. It changes its standards. I am heavily involved statewide in public education processes and practices; and I can tell you my colleagues in other districts, urban and otherwise, are troubled by this process we are forced to follow.”

James continued, saying, “Our achievement scores -- along with many others across the state -- have fallen off dramatically with these higher goals and rapidly changing standardized tests.”

McWilliams-Woods offered this: “Assessments have gotten tougher, and the bar has been raised simultaneously; so our gap actually has gotten bigger over that time period. That’s the tough part for us under those requirements. It’s hard to close gaps when the bars keep moving, but we have to.”

The difference between Report Card & District Data 2017

Keep in mind the many ways to measure student success. At Akron Public Schools, we go to great lengths to make sure we get a complete picture of our students’ progress. 

https://sites.google.com/apslearns.org/districtprofile

You may find the State of Ohio Report Card data here:

https://education.ohio.gov/

Evaluating Student Progress and Success at APS
Concerning the release today (9/14/17) of the State Report Card in Ohio, please take note that in Akron Public Schools, MAP tests are used to develop our own assessments of progress. We find the State Report Card not reflective of actual student progress.

Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is a national test that has been standardized, using the same parameters year after year so as to allow for real, measurable results.

Ohio's report card has changed its parameters in each of the past four years, making it impossible to track progress. This is akin to comparing apples to bananas with the state report card. Using nationally standardized MAP testing, we have been able to measure and track our progress.

Following is a link to MAP, so you may see how the tests are formulated. We feel it is important for APS to convey to you that we are not averse to being evaluated. We do, however, want to be evaluated fairly: https://www.nwea.org/assessments/map/ 

APS believes state report cards that are dependent upon different companies creating and issuing the tests and "measurable results" that change annually are not effective ways to evaluate student progress.

Our MAP test results have shown, in percentiles (ranked against the rest of the nation), that APS students have made progress in every area, jumping from (in most cases) 2013 results that showed our students primarily with percentile ranks in the low 20s or 30s in reading and math to now showing our kids with percentile ranks in the high 30s to high 40s.  Students are considered to be in average on MAP between the 25th percentile to the 75th percentile.

In terms of tracking progress and performance, this national standardized testing, consistent year after year, allows us to do an apples-to-apples comparison that shows steady growth and progress. Measurable numbers reflect where our kids are ranked nationally. Instead of giving a grade card report (A-F) based upon a moving target of shifting data, this gives the direct numbers that rank our students with the rest of our country's students.

You may see coverage in the news media and know that it is simpler for the media to report this story saying our schools are receiving a particular grade. It is more complicated to delve into percentiles (such as an improvement from 30th to better than 40th in three years), but this is the accurate way to tell the public how we are performing.

We are also linking you to a segment from Monday's (9/11/17) APS Board of Education meeting where Ellen McWilliams-Woods, Ph.D., our deputy superintendent, did a crystallized presentation to the board of why MAP testing works for evaluative purposes AND showing you graphic results from 2013-17.  

We believe this gives our families a perspective on this entire process that they might not receive through traditional news coverage. We feel it is a disservice for anyone to be giving our parents skewed, unfounded information on student performance with a basic report card grade ... and more accurate to show how our own, nationally recognized results are better -- more accurate.  

As for the issuance of the annual report card today, again this year, the state changed testing requirements and the report card. In 2015, Ohio implemented new, more rigorous tests that resulted in all schools across the state having test scores drop typically by 15 to 30 points and report cards drop typically by two letter grades.  

Deputy Superintendent McWilliams-Woods pointed out the MAP testing measurements that the district took from 2014 to 2017 showed student performance in a different and better light.  

“MAP testing evaluates students’ achievement percentile levels on state tests instead of the percentage of their passage rate. It ranks our kids against thousands of others nationwide. In those tests, we perform much better.” McWilliams-Woods added, “Those graphs showed improved performance across all subject and grade levels in the past three years. These are trajectories we pay attention to so we make sure we’re improving year to year.”  

McWilliams-Woods told a meeting of the Akron Board of Education School Board September 11, 2017, that if APS keeps doing this, it will eventually get to 80 percent [passage rate] on the report card.

However, using only the state’s report card as the measure of performance, has its problems for public schools.  

Superintendent David W. James would like to see consistency in the report card metrics, saying, “Every year, the state raises the bar on the report card. It changes its standards. I am heavily involved statewide in public education processes and practices; and I can tell you my colleagues in other districts, urban and otherwise, are troubled by this process we are forced to follow.”

James continued, saying, “Our achievement scores -- along with many others across the state -- have fallen off dramatically with these higher goals and rapidly changing standardized tests.”

McWilliams-Woods offered this: “Assessments have gotten tougher, and the bar has been raised simultaneously; so our gap actually has gotten bigger over that time period. That’s the tough part for us under those requirements. It’s hard to close gaps when the bars keep moving, but we have to.”

The difference between Report Card & District Data 2017

Keep in mind the many ways to measure student success. At Akron Public Schools, we go to great lengths to make sure we get a complete picture of our students’ progress. 

https://sites.google.com/apslearns.org/districtprofile

You may find the State of Ohio Report Card data here:

https://education.ohio.gov/