School ratings

Same song, same verse, but when will the tune ever end?

The Rockdale ISD picked up the latest in a recent series of negative performance ratings last week when it was placed on the Public Education Grant (PEG) list.

If it seems like another verse of the same song—it may appear Rockdale gets on some list a couple of times a year— that’s exactly correct. In fact, it would be more accurate to call it the same verse of the same song, just played on a different instrument.

All of the school’s negative ratings are re-hashings of 2011 TAKS test scores at the high school and junior-high campuses. Why 2011? There weren’t new tests last year because the state is switching over to a new standardized test.

There may not be any this year, either. Every group that’s handed Rockdale a negative rating since summer, 2011— The Texas Education Agency, the federal AYP rankings, the PEG List—has based their “findings” on the 2011 TAKS scores not on any new criteria.

How, then, do you get off those lists, if there may be up to a three-year gap before there’s any new scores which might lift you into a higher rating? That’s something the Rockdale ISD would like to know, too.

In those 2011 scores, Rockdale ISD said one of the campuses was listed “unacceptable” because of a clerical error in which one student got classified with the wrong subgroup. In schools of our size one can mean a lot. (Schools a little smaller than Rockdale’s sometimes get a pass because their sample sizes are too small to count statistically.)

Maybe so. But the bottom line, for many in education, is whether one be-all, end-all test is enough to give thumbsup, thumbs down rating for an entire school. Is that fair?

Obviously, everyone wants accountability. But are accountability and assessment identical?

Questions to think about. But for now, the tune goes on. And chances are good before things change we’ll be reminded of that discordant note from 2011 again before there’s any chance for getting back on key.—M.B.

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2013-01-24 digital edition

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