Hot Air from PWCS officials about the SDMT

PWCS official’s statements regarding test results have been conflicting. They’ve stated emphatically that Investigations has closed the achievement gap while also claiming that one year just doesn’t provide enough data to make any conclusions about the Investigations math program. When asked to provide data to quantify their assertion that Investigations has closed the achievement gap, PWC officials have cited the SDMT and comparisons of SOL test scores from 2002.

Unfortunately, it seems these claims of success are little more than hot air.

First, the SDMT was never given before Investigations was mandated countywide. That means there is no pre-Investigations baseline with which to compare post Investigations scores. As such, any conclusions about increases in test scores are little more than wild guesses.

Second, the SDMT doesn’t aggregate test scores by the AYP groups used to determine the achievement gap. The achievement gap is the difference between scores achieved by minority and disadvantaged students and their white classmates. The SDMT provides an average score for the district for all students and disadvantaged students. No other aggregate scores are provided. Because there are no aggregate scores for white students, the achievement gap can not be determined from SDMT data.

Third, the SDMT doesn’t provide data for the state or for neighboring jurisdictions from which to make comparisons. The SDMT compares PWC students to a national average, and our children are ranked in the middle.

Fourth, and perhaps most interesting, the SDMT was only mandated county-wide when Investigations was mandated. Prior to that the county used the Stanford 10 math assessment. Why did we have to change from the Stanford 10 to the SDMT when Investigations was mandated? What instructional programs do school districts using the SDMT follow – are they all similar to Investigations? I find it interesting that the switch was made at the same time a new math program was mandated because the switch made it impossible to compare scores achieved before Investigations was mandated to scores achieved after Investigations was mandated.

So PWCS officials have stated, with conviction, that Investigations has closed the achievement gap. But test scores from before Investigations was mandated aren’t available because the county adopted a different test and the scores necessary to calculate the achievement gap aren’t available under the new test.

In short, PWCS officials have based their assertion about decreases in the achievement gap on nothing but hot air.

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