Atlanta Public Schools is testing a new measure of school effectiveness and the results are now public. An open records request produced the scores of every school in Atlanta, showing how much learning children are actually getting during a nine-month school year.
For example, children at Early College High School at Carver are packing 17 months of learning into the nine-month school year. Conversely, students at Crim High School are only getting six months of learning in the same nine months school is in session.
APS is one of the first school districts in Georgia to use the new measures of student achievement and Georgia is one of a growing number of states using the data to measure schools and teachers. The request was initially filed by the AJC.
The scores are based on Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and select End of Course tests. Those scores are then referenced against a statistical formula that includes academic history and demographics to project how a particular student should score on future exams. The resulting score is based on how close the student comes to that projection.
Measuring success is the classroom has been one of the stickiest issues in reforming and improving education. Many in government, including President Barack Obama, want to use student test scores as a way to measure an educator's effectiveness, but teachers' unions argue that such rubrics are unfair.
Using test scores to grade teachers is a trend that began around the country under President George W. Bush with No Child Left Behind and continues with President Obama's Race to the Top, which pushes schools to use standardized test scores to retain and reward teachers.
The new evaluation system could change all that because it focuses on how much learning has happened, regardless of overall achievement compared to national grade-level expectations.
For the time being, the new measurement will not be a replacement for state exams that measure grade-level proficiency, but will act as an additional measurement for student performance.
For more information and a full list of how every school in APS scored on the value-added test, check out http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/new-aps-data-reveals-schools-disparity/nSbcZ/