PWCS’s recently issued three year evaluation of the controversial TERC Investigations elementary math program shows the SOL pass rates are unchanged and advanced pass rates are down slightly for the district overall since the program was mandated. SDMT scores for 1st and 2nd graders continue to be average to below average for the nation with certain content areas posing ongoing challenges for PWC students.
Our independent analysis has demonstrated that PWCS’s rank relative to the other school districts in the state has declined sharply since TERC was mandated – from the 77th to the 47th percentile for 3rd grade pass rates. Our examination of the Student Performance by Question report (see here), provided to PWCS by the company that grades our SOLs and obtained by contributors to this blog, demonstrated that there are certain content areas where PWC students simply aren’t meeting expectations.
No instructional program is perfect and finding the correct mix of materials to provide students with the best possible instruction is difficult. It requires school district officials to be willing to step back from their belief in instructional programs and examine test data, like that presented in the Student Performance by Question report, over several years to identify areas where the content of the instructional program needs to be tweaked.
But that’s not happening in PWCS.
Several weeks ago we completed our analysis of the 2009 Student Performance by Question report. We asked PWCS for copies of the same report (or one which conveyed the same information) for 2005 – 2008. We were told that it would cost more than $200 for staff to be assigned simply to determine if the data / reports existed.
We presented our analysis of the 2009 report to PWC School Board members and asked what steps had been taken by the district to address the areas of concern we’d identified. Our question was forwarded to PWCS officials and the response we got back was as frightening as it was entertaining.
PWCS does not examine trends in SOL test data because the questions change every year. For example, the questions on multiplication and division facts on the grade 3 SOL changed were 72/9, 36/4, and 49/7 in 2008, 2007, and 2005, respectively. According to PWCS officials, any conclusions from increasing or decreasing scores on that question are irrelevant because the questions were different from year to year.
Interestingly, PWCS pays extra to receive the Student Performance by Question report from Pearson (the company which grades our SOLs). We spent millions developing a test data warehouse so district officials could quickly and easily access test data to identify areas of concern.
It appears that district officials have bought so totally and completely into the Investigations approach to “teaching” mathematics that they aren’t even bothering to examine test data to see if there are any areas of concern and our school board member are, apparently, content to just go along.
That’s pretty pathetic.