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Published: 6/20/2013 - Updated: 10 months ago

TPS gets mixed results in scores

Data itself inconclusive, but tempers some optimism

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Preliminary scores show mixed results for Toledo Public Schools students on this year’s state tests, and district officials say the data is too raw to draw any conclusions on how TPS will perform on its state report card.

The state recently provided districts with student passage rates on the Ohio Achievement Assessments and Ohio Graduation Tests. The results for TPS show an about even distribution of areas where test scores improved and declined from last year’s.

Alone, the data likely aren’t enough for predictions, but they do suck some air out of internal district test data that raised cautious optimism about major improvements on the state tests.

“It’s just part of the picture,” Chief Academic Officer Jim Gault said of the passage rates.

In 14 OAA categories, TPS scores were up in six compared to raw 2011-12 scores, while they were down in eight. In some cases, the percent change is so small that it’s unlikely to cause significant changes to the district’s report card.

For instance, 1 percent fewer fourth graders passed math tests, while .98 percent more eighth graders passed reading tests.

Some categories saw large changes, however. Fourth grade reading passage rates went up 11.7 percent, and 7.34 percent more seventh graders passed reading tests. But scores in fifth grade math dropped by nearly 10 percent, and sixth grade reading scores dropped 8 percent.

Passage rates for the OGTs were also mixed, with gains of nearly 6 percent in reading, but a more than 4 percent decline in writing. Of the five OGT categories, TPS passage rates increased year-over-year in three of them.

The passage rates don’t break down how students scored on the OAA, which makes its value limited. District and schools’ performance index, which is a weighted cumulative average of scores for all grades, can shift significantly irrespective of passage rates because there are multiple score designations — three above passage, two below. Without knowing how many students score at each designation, districts can’t even estimate their performance index score.

And without the other elements of state report cards, such as value-added scores and graduation rates, TPS administrators said they couldn’t even guess how the district will ultimately score.

But Mr. Gault, who along with TPS Superintendent Jerome Pecko showed a Blade reporter the data Wednesday, said he believed students improved in the last year. “I believe that our kids made growth,” he said.

Comparing data year-to-year is always fraught with opportunity for false conclusions. The seventh graders of this year, for instance, were in sixth grade last year, so passage rates are comparing two different cohorts. Test score bumps could just be a sign of a bumper crop, and drops indicative of a pool of poor performers.

More detailed data should be available to districts in August, when real analysis can be done. Beyond reviews of district program effectiveness, TPS administrators also said they’ll analyze whether the internal tests they used to track student progress were flawed. Math test passage rates, for instance, were about 7 percent higher on the internal tests, which concerned Mr. Gault.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com, 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.



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