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On the Bubble of Success? The Role of LEAP Performance Thresholds in New Orleans Schools

Jon Valant and Robert Santillano

Date & Time
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
12:00–1:00 pm
Tulane Medical School Building
1555 Poydras St., 7th Floor
Room 760
New Orleans LA 70112 Map and directions

Louisiana, like oth­er states, holds schools account­able for the per­cent­age of stu­dents scor­ing above per­for­mance thresh­olds on state tests. For exam­ple, our schools get points toward their School Per­for­mance Scores when stu­dents per­form above any thresh­old such as Basic. In the­o­ry, this can cre­ate an incen­tive for schools to con­cen­trate efforts on stu­dents near a thresh­old, which may come at the expense of oth­er stu­dents who score far below or above the thresh­olds. Researchers have doc­u­ment­ed this so-called bub­ble effect” in oth­er states. How­ev­er, Louisiana dif­fers from oth­er states by pro­vid­ing extra points for reach­ing mul­ti­ple pro­fi­cien­cy thresh­olds (Approach­ing Basic, Basic, Mas­tery, Advanced). The New Orleans school reform set­ting also changes the poten­tial for bub­ble effects by adding addi­tion­al stakes to account­abil­i­ty for schools at risk of takeover or clo­sure. This study inves­ti­gates whether bub­ble effects are present in Louisiana and whether they are inten­si­fied in the high-stakes set­ting of New Orleans school reform. Changes in test scores are com­pared for stu­dents near and far from per­for­mance cut-points to mea­sure bub­ble effects in New Orleans and statewide. Is there evi­dence of bub­ble effects in Louisiana? Has this changed with post-Kat­ri­na changes to account­abil­i­ty rules? Are these effects more pro­nounced in New Orleans? The answers have impor­tant impli­ca­tions for how to inter­pret test score trends in the city and sup­port the growth of all students.

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