Freedom from unproven evaluation systems that rate teachers and leaders through unreliable testing programs

Speech prepared for the Georgia State Senate and House Education Subcommittees Listening Session

Augusta, Georgia

December 3, 2013

By Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao

College and Career Readiness Performance Index

The College and Career Readiness Performance Index is the new way schools are ranked in Georgia.  The Georgia Department of Education released this new report card tool in May of 2012.  The scores on Georgia’s Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) are used in grades 3-8.  These scores generate “achievement points” for the school.   Georgia’s Criterion Referenced Competency Tests in Math and English/Language Arts are designed based on Common Core standards that are grade level specific. 

For example, every fifth grader in Georgia’s public schools takes a test that covers fifth grade level Common Core standards in Math and English/Language Arts.    Knowing math beyond the fifth grade level does not generate any additional achievement points because abilities beyond the fifth grade Common Core Standards are not measured on the CRCT. The tests are not designed to measure abilities beyond or below fifth grade.

In addition to achievement points that don’t measure achievement beyond or below the student’s assigned grade level, schools are eligible for progress points, achievement gap points, and challenge points. 

Progress points are awarded based on “the percent of a school’s students who show typical or high academic growth on state tests.”  These extra points are called progress points, but since the CRCT cannot measure beyond or below grade level, they cannot measure student progress outside of specific “grade level expectations.”  These expectations are different each year.  Since the Common Core Standards define what is taught in each and every grade level, the progress of students beyond or below the Common Core Standards does not count.   Criterion Referenced Tests are not designed to measure progress.  They are designed to measure student mastery of Common Core Standards. 

Achievement gap points are awarded to schools for “closing or having small achievement gaps on state tests or for year-over-year gap change.”  For example, if Forrest Gump and Doogie Howser attended elementary school here in Georgia and the differences in their scores on the CRCT were smaller each year, averaged along with other students in the state, their school could earn extra points.  Although there is not a direct student-to-student comparison, there is a comparison of the average scores of all the lower performing students to the average scores of the higher performing students in the state.  If the achievement gap closes, bonus points are awarded.

Challenge points are awarded if, “schools have a significant number of economically disadvantaged students, English learners and students with disabilities meeting expectations or if they exceed the CCRPI state targets in college-ready programs.” 

I taught economically disadvantaged students in the late 1980’s.  I learned many things from my students.  Those students were just like any other students I have taught over the years, full of dreams and potential.  As much as I felt sorry for many of them because of their economic circumstances, I knew that lowering my expectations out of pity was a mistake.   We do not do them any favors by not requiring them to do their very best.  When we award bonus points to schools who serve poor students, we misrepresent the truth.  Parents and students need accurate information about their schools.    

Awarding challenge points to schools with English language learners also invalidates the CCRPI scores.   I worked with English language learners in Miami Dade, so I have experienced the joy of watching a young student learn English.  My husband’s family escaped from Cuba when he was 4 years old.  His cousin’s son, Alberto Dominquez, came to America when he was 10.  In Cuba, a communist country, instruction was given in Spanish.  The students also studied Russian, because in Cuba the government decides what is taught in schools.  Alberto Dominguez began to learn English at the age of 10.  Several years later, he made a perfect score on the SAT.  I don’t think his school needed any bonus points for his achievement. 

If a school has a significant number of students with disabilities who meet or exceed expectations, bonus points are awarded.  This is a sneaky way to fix a problem that was created by the CRCT.  Students with disabilities, many times, are not performing on grade level.  Because the test is grade level specific, students struggle to prepare for the test.  Since many times the test is not within their range of abilities, they do not perform well.  Awarding bonus points to students who are given an inappropriate test is not the answer.  Administering a test that is within the students’ range of their abilities is the answer.  These bonus points do not address the problems; they attempt to cover them up. 

The CCRPI is the only measure we have in grades 3-8 to compare schools.  It is not accurate.  Georgia needs accurate information.  Georgia needs accurate tests that measure student achievement, not mastery of grade level specific Common Core Standards.

Note:  Because of the 3 minute time limit, only sections from the last part of the speech were delivered.