Letter: Overemphasis leads to suspect scores

RE: “High payouts can follow test scores,” Sunday, March 17.

In the earlier days of the new educational reform movement in Louisiana, there was a section of the Louisiana Department of Education devoted to monitoring achievement test score gains.

Expected test score gains were calculated based upon the previous year’s test data, and if new scores exceeded these projections by a certain statistical amount, the scores were determined to be suspect.

In other word, statistically these gains could not have occurred without some outside interference (cheating).

When such occurrences were discovered, a complete audit of the test score documents was done along with interviews of those conducting the testing. Analyses of the test documents included such techniques as erasure analysis of the number of answers changed from incorrect to correct answers, comparing documents of children seated next to each other etc.

With the arrival of Education Superintendent Paul Pastorek, the test score monitoring function was abolished in the name of departmental reorganization.

So the problem continues with our new education reform movement that not only factors test score achievement into teachers’ tenure rights but also provides cash rewards to teachers and schools.

Just how much gain is too much gain and where is the accountability to determine such?

If our esteemed education leaders would do a little investigation of their own they would find a bundle of research showing that the more heavily test scores are factored into teacher evaluations and rewards, the greater the increase in “suspect” test scores.

Jim Anderson

former director of accountability/assessment,
New Orleans Public Schools

Ponchatoula