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How Much Does the Absence of Student Growth Measures Distort School Performance Scores and Affect Accountability?

Douglas N. Harris (Presenter) and Lihan Liu

Date & Time
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
12:00–1:00 pm
1555 Poydras Street, Suite 700

With recent changes in federal policy, states such as Louisiana are considering measuring school performance in new ways. One of the oldest, and perhaps most significant, issues has been on the distinction between student achievement levels versus growth. The vast majority of states focus mostly or exclusively on achievement levels. This includes Louisiana’s School Performance Scores (SPS) and the letter grades based on them. The problem, however, with SPS and other achievement level-based measures is that students enter schools at very different starting points, which means achievement levels may be uninformative about how much students are really learning and, therefore, about school performance.

In this brown bag, we will present estimates for schools’ average student growth, or “value-added,” alongside SPS for a sample of schools in New Orleans and throughout the state (As always, any school-level data we discuss will be anonymized). How different are school performance measures once we account for student growth? How different would accountability pressures be if we used a mix of achievement levels and growth, as the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is now proposing?

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