Thursday, September 26, 2013

Score one for CMS on data accuracy

Last year's CMS seniors didn't log any math gains on the SAT, but the folks who run the district made a big step forward in demonstrating their own ability to report numbers.

When the College Board released its 2013 SAT report today,  I downloaded the school by school report from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction and looked at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools news release.

The numbers for CMS didn't match.

That's not the surprise.  As many of you know,  there have been instances in years past when CMS numbers didn't add up.  And too often,  the people who released those numbers weren't prepared to explain.

Today, Chief Accountability Officer Frank Barnes was ready.  Before the scores went public his staff had checked the data they got from the College Board against the state report and caught a problem:  The state report didn't include Garinger High.

That omission made CMS look better.  Without the 142 tests from Garinger,  the CMS average was 1480,  one point above the state average.  With them,  CMS fell to 1473  (still a 10-point gain over 2012).

The CMS news release used the lower and more accurate scores.  It discussed the possibility that lower participation might have contributed to gains.  It mentioned that a school was missing from the state report -- and when I asked Barnes what Garinger's score was he gave it to me, even though the score of 1218 out of a possible 2400 was second-lowest in CMS.  He said he's working with state officials to get the Garinger scores added to state calculations.

"We wanted to report what we knew to be true,  even if it was lower than the state report,"  Barnes said.

All of this adds up to a promising sign that Superintendent Heath Morrison is delivering on his promise to make sure numbers are correct before they're released and to be honest about strengths and shortcomings.

Morrison was hired in 2012, as CMS was grappling with the embarrassment of badly botched school progress reports.  The first time I talked to him,  he said he was going to create systems to avoid such errors and provide honest explanations if mistakes did happen.

The first few weeks brought stumbles.  When state exam results were released in August 2012,  CMS declined to release results for West Charlotte and Harding high schools,  which were not given a state rating because they didn't test enough students.  The result:  A front-page story when I got the numbers from the state and they turned out to be the two lowest-performing schools in the district.

Since then it's been hard to judge.  Changes in state testing have delayed the exam results that usually land in the summer.  CMS still hasn't launched its own school ratings,  trying to make sure they mesh with a state system that's in flux.

The big test will come in November,  when the state releases 2013 exam results. It looks like CMS may be ready.


Anonymous said...

Doing your job correctly at CMS admin does deserve a headline.
Wow - a first.

Wiley Coyote said...

What does it say that two years ago, in 2011, the CMS score was 1523, 40 points higher than this year?

Also, West Charlotte's scores have declined over the past three years.

2011 2012 2013

West Charlotte High 1243 1194 1187

Calling Project LIFT.....

Hopewell High
1462 1390 1372

North Mecklenburg High 1573 1481 1446

There are some really big swings - up and down...

Cato Middle College High
1515 1605 1636

Anonymous said...

Los Angeles school officials began rolling out their ambitious plan to equip every kid in the district with an iPad last week, but they've quickly run into a problem—the kids are pretty computer savvy. It seems that the first high school students who brought the iPads home easily figured out how to hack the security controls, freeing themselves up to stream music, tweet away, or visit supposedly off-limits sites such as Facebook, reports CBS Los Angeles. The LA Unified School District has for now put a halt to students bringing the iPads home, and it might even suspend the program entirely, according to a memo obtained by the LA Times.

Anonymous said...

Considerable research confirms the relationship between school start times, sleep deprivation, and student performance, truancy, and absenteeism, as well as depression, mood swings, impulse control, tobacco and alcohol use, impaired cognitive function and decision-making, obesity, stimulant abuse, automobile accidents, and suicide. Mounting evidence about the biology of adolescent sleep, and about the impact of later start times, shows that starting school before 8 a.m. not only undermines academic achievement but endangers health and safety. Because logistical and financial issues prevent local school systems from establishing safe and educationally defensible hours, however, legislation mandating start times consistent with student health and educational well-being is essential.

Anonymous said...

CMS Administrators are still INEPT

Great news that after all these years all those people making over $100,000 can finally display some BASIC math skills.

Shamash said...

It's definitely good news to hear that CMS is interested in getting the facts straight instead of the typical CYA.

At least that's a good start.

But it's like all that other testing they do.

What are you going to do about it?

And please pay attention to the TOP as well as the BOTTOM performers this time.

It's not ALL about bringing the low performers up to mediocre standards.

We'll never get anywhere with that as our goal.

Don't assume that those at the "top" don't need more attention or resources than those at the "bottom" just because they can do well on tests.

Anonymous said...

What does "considerable research" say about the parents influence on their kids bad study/sleep habits?

Anyone want to take a guess?

And what about those poor kids in Finland who have to go to school IN THE DARK most of winter?

How do they survive and do so much better than our kids?

And, my god, if you want to talk about sleep deprivation, just look at South Korea and much of Asia.

Somehow I don't think our kids have it so bad.

Maybe cutting back on the "extra" curricular activities a bit might help with bedtime.

Anonymous said...

In reporting her book, Ripley made the canny choice to enlist “field agents” who could penetrate other countries’ schools far more fully than she: three American students, each studying abroad for a year.

Kim, a restless 15-year-old from rural Oklahoma, heads off to Finland, a place she had only read about, “a snow-castle country with white nights and strong coffee.”

Instead, what she finds is a trudge through the cold dark, to a dingy school with desks in rows and an old-fashioned chalkboard — not an iPad or interactive whiteboard in sight.

What Kim’s school in the small town of Pietarsaari does have is bright, talented teachers who are well trained and love their jobs.

Anonymous said...

Why should we praise CMS for pointing out someone else's mistake?
When CMS admits to their OWN mistakes and corrects them - such as the asinine bell schedules, or the use of online recovery to artificially inflate the graduation numbers - then we can at least acknowledge what they have done is in the interest of students.

But then again it has always been all show with Re Pete.

Anonymous said...

"not an iPad or interactive whiteboard in sight"

7:29AM - our students are lazy, for the most part. Just because they know how to look up information on an Iphone or Ipad doesn't translate to "more learning". They do know how to fill their time up with useless activities, such as snapchat, Instagram and watching Youtube videos though. We should be so proud.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing about numbers: they can be manipulated, massaged and tweeked until they say what you want them to say.

Anonymous said...

Good for the kids if the numbers really are true. I dont trust anything CMS puts out , because it is almost always proven wrong shortly after. I dont think we should celebrate if they are honest once in a blue moon.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat off topic, but I don't care.

Learning to do anything well requires boring memorization and rote repetitiveness. This is my fundamental belief. Learning to dance, or play the piano, or draw is a highly structured process. "Creativity" is not possible without a deep understanding, commitment, acquired knowledge, and personal love of subject matter which requires boring memorization and rote repetitiveness based on universal standards developed over many centuries. A person cannot be "creative" until they acquire and then surpass basic standards and norms related to subject matter. This is my belief.

This being said, I think it is very important to balance highly structured norms needed to attain expertise in a particular subject area with something called "Joy". Joy of subject matter. Joy. Joy matters. When test scores don't matter and inquiry of subject matter is joyful. Learning to do anything well should be a balance of unpleasant hard work and joy. This is my fundamental belief.

It was an absolute "Joy" to participate and lead as a student teacher in a STEM festival today at Duke Energy Exploratorium - because science happens! Because science is really hard work but can also be incredibly, and most unexpectedly, joyfully and super-duper fun. Honest to God, today was a blast.

I'm glad CMS scientific data is finally accurate. Woo-ya-dippy-yippy-hoo!


Wiley Coyote said...

I've seen some amazing paintings done by an elephant, a gorilla, a horse and a dog over the past few years.....

Anonymous said...

I think you forgot the cat who was fascinated with I-Pod fish -making this particular cat a model as to why cats should have I-Pods - for national security and economic prosperity purposes.


Anonymous said...

I think you forgot the cat who was fascinated with I-Pod fish -making this particular cat a model as to why cats should have I-Pods - for national security and economic prosperity purposes.


Anonymous said...

I -Pods. I-Pads. Whatever... It's Friday night.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this performance as well as the graduation rate are going in this direction because of the same reason the overall crime rate is going down. If you do not believe it, read Freakonomics or see the special on HBO.

Anonymous said...

Quote the source of the data for this article. CMS is not and will not be trusted ever ! VOTE NO BONDS!!!!

Anonymous said...

HEY TEACHERS! Would love to hear if any of you have heard From your own school administrative staff when next week your getting your NEW TECHNOLGY mentioned by DR. Morrison. He stated k-5 teachers are all getting IPads and 6 12 are supposed to be getting HP tablets.... Check out Ann's blog.

Wiley Coyote said...

This is why you NEVER leave it up to educrats to make decisions about what classes the next year your child takes based on prior year EOG testing.....

Errors plague testing, hurt students in public schools

Flawed questions used in standardized testing cause a cascade of problems when they slip past layers of review and appear on standardized exams..

ATLANTA — Chris Domaleski had a problem and its name was Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Question 42 on Georgia's sixth-grade social studies test had asked whether Webber was a playwright, painter, sculptor or athlete.

The famous composer of Broadway musicals, however, was none of those things. But what should Domaleski, the state's testing director, do? Testing was over. Scrapping the question would delay test results at least 10 days, inviting complaints about one of the state's most politically-sensitive undertakings. Rushing a re-scoring would also heighten the chance of error. Yet counting the question would mean penalizing tens of thousands of students for someone else's mistake.

Domaleski's predicament illustrates the cascade of problems flawed questions cause when they slip past layers of review and appear on standardized exams....

Anonymous said...


Don't most tests caution that you should choose the "best" answer.

Not necessarily the correct answer...

It's more like throwing a handgrenade than being a sniper.

In which case, playwright is close enough.

Anonymous said...

Back in the old days, my father got up at 4 am every morning to do farm chores and milk cows before attending school. So did most kids, and they did just fine in school. It doesn't matter what time the start times are, children need to GO TO BED at a reasonable time and not sit up half the night, and then they will excel in school. That research is nonsense, the solution is simple- GO TO BED!

Anonymous said...

1:18 - oh the good ole days. I wish it were as simple as you state. Did your father go to school for 7 hours a day? Did he play a school sport, or play on a travel team? Did he have coach required work outs after school? Did he have 3 hours + of homework a night? Did he have a job after school? Did he take AP classes to prepare for college? Did he have a computer, cell phone or an Ipod, or similar device?

I didn't think so. He grew up in a very different time, one that I wish we could go back to. Unfortunately that's not our world today and our teens can't go to bed til 11-midnight every night due to the demands of their lives.

Anonymous said...

I don't know any kids around here who live on farms.