Not Testing Some Kids Makes Schools Look Better [corrected]


I thought knew all the gimmicks and schemes that schools (and districts and states) try and hide low-performing kids and make themselves look better.  But I learned a new one recently from Rod Estvan having to do with reclassifying special education kids so that their scores are excluded.  Tricky tricky tricky.  What I don't know is how widespread the manipulation is, whether the district and state are monitoring it, and whether schools in other states are using it. 

The gist is that schools can reclassify designate severely disabled SPED kids so that they take a version of the state test (the IAA) that doesn't gets included in the school's special education subgroup score [at a rate that is substantially higher on average than the regular SPED score].   A Calumet City elementary school profiled in this recent WBEZ story (Cal City School Beats the Odds), may be an example of the problem. The school's IAA designation rate went from 8 percent to 34 percent over the past two years.

[See additional information from ISBE in comments below]

Filed under: ISBE / Springfield


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  • How about this one. Not letting kids in CPS take the ACT because they don't have the correct number of service learning hours as a junior.

  • good one, terry -- is that similar or different to what the tribune described where schools didn't classify juniors and juniors because of credits?

    also -- is that more or less common than the IAA thing do you think? the ACT thing seems like it might be more widespread / affect more schools.

    / alexander

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    My issue with this is that students who don't have the hours are more likely tobe poor test takers. I also don't know if this is CPS wide or if schools get the individual call on it.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    wbez follows up on the alternative assessment story, including a passionate response from the calumet city principal defending the use of the IAA for more kids

  • Duncan's BTTF (Bribe to the Flop)... All peer reviewed research debunks every major program in 'Race to the Top' is a good article about the different studies that clearly show duncan's plan will destroy public education as we know it.§ion=Article

    Study: Texas' teacher merit pay program hasn't boosted student performance 12:24 AM CST on Wednesday, November 4, 2009

  • the state is saying that IAA kids' scores *are* included in AYP, in which case there's no giant advantage in shifting kids into the IAA pool. they're still counted.

    however, maybe the real advantage is shifting kids into IAA. the state says that the overall IAA average for the state was 66.5, slightly higher than last year

  • more info from the state:

    - IAA scores are included in with the rest of the SPED scores

    - 200 schools got IAA exemptions (ie, to exceed the 1 percent cap)

    - IAA scores (66 percent) are much higher than regular SPED scores (42.3 percent reading and 53 math.)

  • here's the form that schools ahve to fill out to get more than 1 percent of their scores counted via IAA:

    i'm not sure if there's any internal or external supervision of this process to prevent abuse

  • here's the list of 200 schools that applied for and were given waivers to go above 1 percent in reporting their 2009 AYP scores -- lincoln elementary is one of the highest at six percent

    what i'm getting from all this is that even if you give lots more of your SPED kids the alternative version of the test, and even if you do this to game the system with higher IAA scores (always assuming the worst here), those IAA kid scores aren't taken out of the AYP process and are limited to some extent by the 1 percent / waiver process.

  • It is true that students with less than 20 service learning hours are considered "demotes" and not put into a regular junior division.

  • Really the biggest concern I have in relation to this issue is the impression it gives to parents of students with disabilities who are looking to move to a school district that works for students with disabilities. I can not begin to tell everyone how often parents call me and ask where are students with disabilities doing better.

    The school in Calumet City went in 2007 from having 21.5% of its students with disabilities testing on the ISAT reading section at or above standards to 52.5% reading at or above in 2009. Just so everyone knows how amazing that is, in 2009 North Shore SD 112 in Highland Park only had 51.3% of its students with disabilities reading at or above state standards.

    The main reason the Cal City school's scores went up for students with IEPs was because the ISBE allowed it to move numerous students off of the ISAT and on to the IAA by granting a wavier. By the way I am still going to tell middle class parents of children with disabilities to move to Highland Park not Cal City if they want a good public education for their disabled child.

    Rod Estvan

  • Dar TerryT5:
    What a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

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