“Adjusting” Accreditation Scores

The accreditation scores for 2017-2018, based on the 2017 testing, are up on the VDOE site.

In the distant past (2005), VDOE’s opaque accreditation process transformed 76.3 and 73.7 math scores at Jeter-Watson into “perfect scores” and embarrassed the Governor.

They now admit to manipulating the scores:

Accreditation ratings also reflect adjustments made for schools that successfully remediate students who initially fail reading or mathematics tests. Adjustments also may be made for students with limited English proficiency and for students who have recently transferred into a Virginia public school. All of these factors are taken into account in calculating pass rates in each subject area.

(But don’t ask them for the remediation data.  They’ll tell you to go breathe ozone.)

They tell me the English rating is based on an average of the reading and writing pass rates.  I’m waiting for information on whether that is an average of the school averages or an average by students.  In the meantime, let’s look at the math data.

The accreditation “adjustments” to pass rates are not so dramatic these days, an average of 2.6 points on the math tests this year, but they still have significant effects.

To start, here is a plot of the math “adjusted” rates (i.e., the rates used for accreditation), by school, vs. the actual pass rates.

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In a world populated with honest data, all those points would lie on the red line.  As you see, some do, and a few lie below (hard to know how the adjustments would produce that result), but most of the data show accreditation scores that are “adjusted” to larger values.

NOTE: It took several hours to groom the dataset.  There were ten schools for which the database reported SOL pass rates but the Accreditation list had no report.  As well, VDOE reported accreditation data for 41 schools not listed in the SOL database and listed another six in the accreditation data without any numbers.  Then there are another four schools that appear in both lists but are missing data in one or the other.  The data here are for the remaining 1,772 schools.

If we plot the distribution of differences (i.e. adjusted score minus actual pass rate), we see that most of the adjustments are five points are fewer. 

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Rescaling the y-axis reveals that numbers even in the 10% range are not trivial and, in one case, the “adjustments” produced a 26 point gain.

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The adjustments reduce the population of scores just below the 70% cutoff for accreditation and increase the population above that benchmark:

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The (least squares) fitted curves show the shift in the average score.

A plot of counts of adjusted minus counts of actual pass rates emphasizes how the adjustments deplete the population below the 70% cutoff and increase it above.

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The outstanding example:  There are 37 schools with 69% math pass rates but only five with that adjusted rate.  The average adjusted rate for those 37 schools is 74%.

VDOE writes the SOL tests.  They can boost the pass rates and accreditation rates simply by making the tests easier.  Yet they indulge in this opaque process to produce meaningless numbers that favor some schools over others.

Moreover, they do not adjust the scores for the one factor that they measure and that we know affects the rates: Economic Disadvantage.

And remember that the pass rates themselves have been fudged in some cases: See, e.g., this and this.

So “opaque” is insufficient to describe this process.  “Opaque and corrupt and unfair” comes closer.

Your tax dollars at “work.”

Carver But Not Walker

The Feds have just named seven Virginia schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools.  They choose the schools based on performance on standardized tests or for “closing achievement gaps.”

This year’s list included Carver, selected as [search for Carver] an Exemplary High Performing School.  Indeed, Carver was the best performing elementary school in Richmond this year and the sixteenth best school in the state.

The list did not include Maggie Walker.  Indeed, the list never [search for Walker in all years] has included Maggie Walker.  Yet Walker was rated tenth best public high school in the nation in 2014 by the Daily Beast.

But, you see, Maggie Walker is a “program,” not a “school.”  So the scores go to high schools in the students’ home districts, albeit those students do not attend those high schools.

Never mind that it has a school board and is accredited as a “school” and has a four-year program and grants diplomas to the 100% of its students who graduate.

Do you suppose the feds know that VDOE is lying to them about the SOL scores of our local high schools?  Do you care that VDOE brokered this corrupt deal so the local Superintendents would let their bright kids go to MLW without lowering the SOLs of the local high schools?  Do you wonder that VDOE manipulates other data (see this and this for some introductory examples; as soon as Bacon’s Rebellion gets its server back up, I’ll add some other links here)?

Your tax dollars at “work.”

Lies, Damn Lies, and Accreditation

The accreditation scores for 2016-2017, based on the 2016 testing, are up on the VDOE site.

In the distant past (2005), VDOE’s opaque accreditation process transformed 76.3 and 73.7 math scores at Jeter-Watson into “perfect scores” and embarrassed the Governor.

They now admit to the practice:

Accreditation ratings also reflect adjustments made for schools that successfully remediate students who initially fail reading or mathematics tests. Adjustments also may be made for students with limited English proficiency and for students who have recently transferred into a Virginia public school. All of these factors are taken into account in calculating pass rates in each subject area.

(But don’t ask them for the retake data.  They’ll tell you to go breathe ozone.)

The accreditation “adjustments” to pass rates are not so dramatic these days, an average of 2.25 points on the math tests this year, but they still have significant effects.

Turning to the current data, here are the distributions of math pass rates and “adjusted” rates, by school.

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The green diamonds are the counts of actual math pass rates by school; the gold squares are the counts of the “adjusted” rates; the smooth curves are fitted Gaussian distributions.  The fitted mean increases from 83.2 to 85.3.

Note: The database has math accreditation scores for 45 schools that are missing from the SOL database; I have omitted those schools.  Similarly, the SOL database has math scores for eight schools that do not appear in the accreditation database.  The data here are for the 1774 schools that appear in both lists.

The plot of counts of “adjusted” minus actual rates emphasizes how the “adjustments” decrease the numbers of not-accredited scores (<70) and increase the counts of accredited scores.

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Notice how the number of “Adjusted” scores decreases just below and about the 70 point cutoff and increases up in the “accredited” range.  In fact, the “adjustments” inflate the number of accredited schools from 1555 to 1653.  That boosts the percentage of schools from 87.7% to 93.2%.

NOTE: These numbers are math only; the number of schools fully accredited for all subjects and graduation rates is, of course, smaller.

VDOE writes the SOL tests.  They can boost the pass – and accreditation – rates simply by making the tests easier.  Yet they indulge in this opaque process to produce meaningless numbers.

And remember that the pass rates themselves have been fudged: See this and this.

Moreover, they do not adjust the scores for the one factor that they measure and that we know affects the rates: Economic Disadvantage.

So “opaque” is insufficient.  “Opaque and corrupt and unfair” comes closer.

Your tax dollars at “work.”

Maggie What?

The Times-Dispatch reports this morning that US News & World Report ranks Community and Open 9th and 10th in Virginia based on college readiness.

First place in the state is Fairfax County’s TJ (actually located in Alexandria!), a Governor’s School

Absent from the list is Maggie Walker, also a Governor’s School.

“What?” you say!  Maggie Walker is a public high school for high-ability students, issues diplomas to its graduates, is governed by a school board comprised of representatives from twelve local school systems, and is accredited as a “school.” 

But VDOE says it’s a “program,” not a “school.”  (While Governor’s School TJ in Alexandria is a “school.”)

AND, since MLW is not a school, the SOL scores of its students are reported to the high schools in their home districts [note: old document; today Pearson surely reports the scores directly], albeit they do not attend those schools.

Do you suppose the feds know that VDOE is lying to them about the SOL scores of our local high schools?  Do you care that VDOE brokered this corrupt deal so the local Superintendents would let their bright kids go to MLW without lowering the SOLs of the local high schools?

BTW: The Daily Beast has better information: In ‘14 they ranked MLW #12 public school in the nation.

Has Roanoke Joined the Cheaters Club?

I earlier quoted Scott Adams for the notion that “whenever you have large stakes, an opportunity for wrong-doing, and a small risk of getting caught, wrong-doing happens. . . .  When humans can cheat, they do.”  That certainly is what we’ve seen wholesale in Atlanta and in Virginia on the VGLA.

Now I have a copy of a letter from a former Roanoke Latin teacher to the President of the VBOE, alleging wholesale cheating at one or more Roanoke schools.

If Adams is right, it would not be a surprise to find a fire beneath this smoke.  In any case it will be interesting to see whether VBOE, which is supposed to supervise the public school system, conducts an investigation.

Here is the letter:

 

Dr. Billy K. Cannaday, Jr.
President
Virginia Board of Education
P.O. Box 2120
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 225-2924
BOE@doe.virginia.gov

Dear Dr. Cannaday:

I am writing you on behalf of over twenty former and current students including faculty at Hidden Valley High School in Roanoke County Public Schools (RCPS), who are extremely concerned about cheating on non-SOL testing on school-issued laptops, which has been a chronic problem since 2007.1 Unfortunately, cheating is not only a widespread problem at Hidden Valley High School, but throughout RCPS in grades 8-12.2

I taught Latin at Hidden Valley High School from 2011 to 2013. Despite informing the administration in November 2012 about cheating on school-issued laptops, nothing was ever resolved. Over ten of my former students informed me after graduating in June 2015 that cheating at the school actually had worsened in the past two years. Many of them described the cheating as “nuts,” “rampant,” and “out of control.” I informed Al Bedrosian of the Board of Supervisors in October 2015 and Fuzzy Minnix of the School Board in November 2015 about my concerns, but nothing was resolved. So I addressed the School Board on March 24, and again nothing was resolved except a vague promise by Jeff Terry, the Chief Information Officer, to update and secure Blackboard next fall (Gregory). I also addressed the Board of Supervisors on April 26 upon the invitation of Al Bedrosian, but unfortunately they do not have any oversight of the school district.

I believe that RCPS is in violation of Standard 7 (C) (3) of the Code of Virginia, which states that “the standards of student conduct and attendance and enforcement procedures [are] designed to provide that public education be conducted in an atmosphere free of disruption and threat to persons or property and supportive of individual rights” (§ 22.1-253.13:7).3 There is no question that RCPS currently has adequate “standards of student conduct” in place for academic integrity. According to Policy 7.11 or the Roanoke County Student Conduct Code, Rule 9 states that “students are expected to perform honestly on any assigned schoolwork or tests” (RCPS Current Policies SERIES 07: Students). Rule 9 (A) states that “students shall not cheat on a test or assigned schoolwork by giving, receiving, offering, and/or soliciting information” while Rule 9 (E) further states that they shall not “use technology for any unauthorized use” (RCPS Current Policies). Likewise, according to the Student Handbook of Hidden Valley High School for 2014-15 the honor code’s goal is “to maintain a high level of integrity, to strive honestly in all endeavors, and to perpetuate an atmosphere of trust between peers, students, and faculty” (2).4

Unfortunately, the central office of RCPS and the administration at Hidden Valley High School have total disregard for realistically enforcing these policies and rules when students take an online non-SOL test or quiz on school-issued laptops using Blackboard. It is extremely easy for a student to cheat without getting caught making the “enforcement procedures” in Standard 7 (C) (3) almost meaningless. The problem is that students have complete access to both their hard drives and the internet during an online test, and it is impossible for a dedicated teacher to watch fifteen or thirty laptop screens and also look for traditional cheating such as crib sheets and smartphones. Students can easily right click on Google, access the Snipping Tool, copy and paste answers, hide a cheat sheet, email passwords, etc. and most insidiously program a key to perform screen captures of an entire test or quiz to a Google server without the teacher ever knowing it. This testing environment is the direct opposite of state-mandated SOL testing which requires a lockdown browser and other needed software in order to prevent digital cheating.

Standard 7 (C) (3) clearly states that “public education be conducted in an atmosphere” “supportive of individual rights” (§ 22.1-253.13:7). RCPS has violated the “individual rights” of honest students who obey the rules or “standards of student conduct” (§ 22.1-253.13:7). The honest students are at a distinct disadvantage in competing against the dishonest ones in terms of lower GPAs, lower class ranking, and less academic awards, which also negatively impacts college admissions, scholarships and grants. There is a de facto system of academic apartheid between the honest students and the dishonest ones or cheaters in grades 8-12 throughout RCPS, thereby negligently allowing a non-level playing field and creating a negative “atmosphere” of learning. Like Major League Baseball players in the 1990s until 2005 during the steroid era, many honest students ask themselves if they should cheat in order to get ahead academically while the dishonest students never ask themselves this question. This is a moral dilemma every honest student faces during the academic year at Hidden Valley High School and all the other county schools in grades 8-12.

In addition, Standard 7 (C) (3) states that “public education be conducted in an atmosphere” “free of disruption” (§ 22.1-253.13:7). Not only is cheating both academically disruptive and morally wrong it also teaches bad “citizenship” by negative example for irresponsible and NOT “responsible participation in American society,” which is both a violation of the public trust and Standard 1 (C. 1) (e.) (Code of Virginia. § 22.1-253.13:1).5 RCPS should not be teaching its students to be emulating such notorious “cheats” as Lance Armstrong, Mark McGwire, Lenny Dykstra and Alex Rodriguez, not to mention Swiss banks, Mitsubishi and Volkswagen. Lastly, cheating certainly does not “foster public confidence” in RCPS, which is one of the five “accreditation standards” of the “public education system” in Virginia (“Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia” (8VAC20-131) 3).
RCPS has not been in compliance with both Standards 7 (C) (3) and 1 (C. 1) (e.) in grades 9-12 since 2007.6 When a student takes an online test or quiz on a school-issued laptop, the school district does not provide adequate “enforcement procedures” as described in Rules 9(A) and 9(E) in Policy 7.11 or the Roanoke County Student Conduct Code. Hidden Valley High School has also failed “to maintain a high level of integrity” and other ethical standards as described in the school’s honor code. However, the most egregious violation has been the noncompliance of RCPS with Standard 7 (C) (3), which states that “public education be conducted in an atmosphere” “supportive of individual rights.” This has repeatedly resulted in honest students being at a distinct disadvantage in competing against the dishonest ones in terms of lower GPAs, lower class ranking, and less academic awards negatively impacting college admissions, scholarships and grants. Consequently cheating has also allowed the teaching of very bad citizenship, which is a violation of Standard 1 (C. 1) (e.). There needs to be an immediate external investigation from Richmond in order to ascertain the status of the school district’s state accreditation, and determine who has been either responsible or complicit in this shameful and preventable academic misconduct. The students, parents and taxpayers in Roanoke County all deserve more integrity and better accountability from their public schools.

Sincerely,

Robert Maronic

 

Notes

1. Smith wrote about cheating on non-SOL testing using school-issued laptops and Blackboard at Hidden Valley High School in May 2013: “In a miniature poll of Hidden Valley students, who’s [sic] identities will be kept anonymous, one 11th grader estimated that in a class of 25 students taking a Blackboard test, ten to fifteen would be cheating.  Another student, a 12th grader, believes that in the same situation, only two or three students would be cheating.  Whichever version is true, students are still cheating on tests.” Smith also wrote, “Most students and teachers agree that it is easier to cheat on a Blackboard test than on a paper test.  A 10th grade student said that it was easier to cheat on a Blackboard test because ‘you can switch windows while you are working on a test.’  An 11th grade student said that it is easier to cheat on a Blackboard test because of ‘search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.’ Some students have witnessed so much cheating that they have become numb to it.”

2. Cheating is truly a widespread problem throughout RCPS. I have talked with over twenty teachers, students and graduates from Cave Spring High School, William Byrd High School and Northside High School since 2011, and all their complaints about cheating on the school-issued laptops are identical to what I was told or experienced at Hidden Valley High School. I have listened to the complaints of one recent graduate of Glenvar High School, and would assume that cheating is just as prevalent there as the other four county high schools. Please also note that RCPS first issued laptops to all eighth graders during the 2015-16 academic year. All seventh graders will be issued laptops during the 2016-17 academic year according to what was discussed at the School Board meeting on March 24.

3. According to “Bill Tracking (Chapter 474 ) – 2008 Session Legislation,” Standard 7 (C) (3) was known as Standard 7 (B.1) (3) in 2007 and 2008 in the Code of Virginia.

4. An updated version of the Hidden Valley High School Student Handbook for the 2015-16 academic year is currently unavailable online.

5. According to the “Virginia Department of Education SOQ Compliance Detail Report [for] Roanoke County” submitted for the 2014-15 academic year, Standard 1 (C. 1) (e.) states, “Essential skills and concepts of citizenship, including knowledge of Virginia history and world and United States history, economics, government, foreign languages, and international cultures, health and physical education, environmental issues and geography necessary for responsible participation in American society and in the international community.”

6. RCPS first issued laptops to all eighth graders during the 2015-16 academic year. The school district has not been in compliance with both Standards 7 (C) (3) and 1 (C. 1) (e.) for eighth graders since August 2015.

 

Works Cited

“Bill Tracking (Chapter 474 ) – 2008 Session Legislation.” Bill Tracking – 2008 Session of the VA General
Assembly. Web. 17 May 2016.
<http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?081+ful+CHAP0474>.

Code of Virginia. § 22.1-253.13:1. Standard 1. Instructional Programs Supporting the Standards of
Learning and Other Educational Objectives. Web. 15 May 2016.
http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title22.1/chapter13.2/section22.1-253.13:1/

Code of Virginia.
§ 22.1-253.13:7. Standard 7. School Board Policies. Web. 14 May 2016.
http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title22.1/chapter13.2/section22.1-253.13:7/

Gregory, Sara. “Roanoke County School Board Approves 2 Percent Raise for Teachers.” Roanoke Times.
24 Mar. 2016. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.
http://www.roanoke.com/news/education/roanoke_county/roanoke-county-school-board-approves-percent-raise-for-teachers/article_3e91756d-b9f9-5bef-83fd-60ed6e5f5bfd.html

Hidden Valley High School: Student Handbook 2014-2015. Roanoke County Public Schools. Web.
12 May 2016.
http://www.rcps.us/hvhs/documents/student_handbook.pdf

“RCPS Current Policies SERIES 07: Students.” Student Conduct Code: Policy 7.11. Roanoke County
Public Schools, 13 Aug. 2015. Web. 12 May 2016. See Rule 9 – Integrity.
http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/roecnty/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=9XY22D71C86A

“Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia” (8VAC20-131). VA
Department of Education, 19 Oct. 2015. Web. 12 May 2016. See p. 3 (8VAC20-131-10. Purpose).
http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/accreditation/regulations_establishing_soa.pdf

Smith, Tanner. “Cheating Continues to Plague Acadmic [sic] Careers.” Titan Times. Hidden Valley High
School [Roanoke], 2 May 2013. Web. 13 May 2016.
<http://www.titantimes.org/news/2013/05/02/cheating-continues-to-plague-acadmic-careers/>

Why Does VDOE Use Biased Data to Accredit Our Schools?

VDOE has an elaborate scheme to accredit (or not accredit) Virginia’s schools.  The basis is SOL pass rates (plus, for high schools, the graduation rate that depends on passing at least six end-of-course SOL tests).

But we know that the SOL is influenced by economic status.  For example, here are the 2015 reading pass rates by division vs. the percentage of economically disadvantaged students in the division.

We’re not here to discuss whether this correlation suggests that more affluent families live in better school districts, whether their children are better prepared for school, whether their children have higher IQs, or whatever.  The point here is that more affluent kids will show better SOL scores than less affluent students.

That’s only part of the problem with accreditation.  VDOE adjusts (I would say “manipulates”) the accreditation data in secret ways that mostly boost the scores.  In one case, that manipulation converted a 76.3 and a 73.7 into “perfect scores” and embarrassed the Governor.

So it’s no surprise that VDOE has not used, and now is abandoning, a measure of student progress that is insensitive to economic advantage or disadvantage and that might even be resistant to manipulation, the Student Growth Percentile (“SGP”).

VDOE says:

A student growth percentile expresses how much progress a student has made relative to the progress of students whose achievement was similar on previous assessments.
A student growth percentile complements a student’s SOL scaled score and gives his or her teacher, parents and principal a more complete picture of achievement and progress. A high growth percentile is an indicator of effective instruction, regardless of a student’s scaled score.

VDOE calculated SGPs in reading, math, and algebra for at least three years, ending in 2014. Then they abandoned the SGP for a new measure that looks to be coarser than the SGP. 

VDOE says that the new measure might be useful in the accreditation process because it allows “partial point[s] for growth,” i.e. another way to boost the scores.  There is no mention of sensitivity to economic disadvantage.

How about it, VDOE?  Does your dandy new measure of progress cancel the advantage of the more affluent students?  And if it does, will you use it to replace the SOL in the accreditation process?

Maggie What?

The Times-Dispatch this morning reports that Open and Community high schools have been rated among the top ten schools in Virginia.

That’s no surprise.  Except perhaps as to math and science, both schools do an outstanding job.

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The surprise is that Maggie Walker did not make the list.

The MW Web site [School Profile page] tells us that the Daily Beast ranked Walker 12th best public high school in the nation on August 27, 2014.  Yet, if you go to the VDOE Web site you won’t even find SOL scores for Walker.

Ask VDOE about this and they’ll tell you something like what they told me:

Governor’s Schools are regional centers or programs and do not report membership [what you and I would call enrollment] to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). Students who attend these programs are included in the average daily membership (ADM) of the schools they otherwise would have attended in their home division. Only schools that report membership to VDOE are assigned a school number.

The assessments of students attending regional centers and programs are coded with the school numbers of the schools where these students are included in membership. This is a long-standing practice that pre-dates the Standards of Learning (SOL) program.

Note, however, that is not true for Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson, the Governor’s School for Science and Technology in Northern Virginia.  

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In short, Maggie Walker, a four-year, full day, public high school that issues diplomas to its graduates, is not a “school.”  The SOL (and other) scores of the MW students are falsely reported at the high schools in those students’ home districts.  So, of course, if you look to the official SOL data, MW does not exist.

Do you wonder why I call VDOE the “State Department of Data Suppression and Manipulation”?

VAAP Claptrap

Virginia has four programs for testing students with “special needs.”  I have written at length about the abuse of one of them, the Virginia Grade Level Alternative (VGLA), to (1) classify as handicapped students who were not and (2) artificially boost pass rates on the required standardized tests. 

Another of those programs, the Virginia Alternative Assessment Program (VAAP), offers a testing alternative for students with “significant cognitive disabilities.”  For reasons I’ll discuss in a later post, I’ve taken a look at the VAAP test scores.

The first thing that jumps out is that many divisions show nonzero pass rates on the VAAP but zero participation counts: For 2015, VDOE reports VAAP reading test participation data for only twenty (of 132) divisions; they report zero participation counts but nonzero pass rates for 113 divisions.

Here for those twenty divisions is a graph of the 2015 VAAP pass rate v. the SOL pass rate.

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Ideally, these data would lie on the red line, indicating that the average test performance was the same on both tests.  The least squares fit to the actual data, the dotted blue line, suggests that the results are fairly close to the ideal, and the R2 indicates a modest correlation.

If we include all 113 divisions that report a VAAP pass rate, the picture changes.

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The R2 indicates only minuscule correlation between the VAAP and SOL scores.  The slope of the fitted line suggests that the divisions with lower SOL scores (i.e., those in need of better scores) have relatively higher VAAP scores.

If you don’t smell a rat here, read on.

The 2015 math tests present a similar picture.

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What’s with all those zero participation counts?

The count is important because it allows some insight into whether a division is using the alternative test to boost its scores, either by easy grading of the alternative test or by removing marginal performers from the SOL testing.  As well, the count tells us whether the division is above the 1% of VAAP tests allowed by the feds at 34 CFR § 200.13(c)(2)(i).  And we know that divisions have used the alternative tests to cheat and that VDOE has let them get away with it.

VDOE says it suppresses test participation  counts fewer than ten “to protect the identity of individual students.”  The actual suppression process is far more draconian (and opaque) and the purpose is far less clear than that.

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The first entry upper left is misleading; once you read the whole thing you’ll see it means “if any individual count anywhere is <10, we suppress almost everything.” 

The effect of all this suppression can be astonishing.  For example, here are the highest 2015 math VAAP pass rates <100% for divisions where the participation is reported as zero (as well, six divisions report 100% pass rates and zero participation):

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Students come in integral units, not in decimal fractions.  The highest possible pass rate for 9 or fewer (integral) students, other than 100%, is 8/9, i.e., 88.88…%.  All of these pass rates are higher.  Thus, counts larger than 9 are being suppressed.

Indeed, the ratios of the smallest integers in the VDOE reported pass rates above are 11/12 (91.666…%; Goochland, Page, Powhatan, Staunton, and Sussex), 12/13 (92.308%; Poquoson and Westmoreland), and 14/15 (93.33…%, Frederick). 

Of course, 11/12 = 22/24 =33/36 . . .   So all we can tell for sure is that VDOE is suppressing numbers larger, and possibly much larger, than 9.

At the extreme, Stafford, the smallest integers that produce a 95.97% pass rate are 119/124(!).  So VDOE’s suppression rules report a zero for a VAAP participation that was at least 124, and could have been two or three (or more) times that.

In summary, here is that set, showing the minimum pass/participation integers:

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There are no student identities available from the VDOE Build-A-Table.   So, why is VDOE hiding all these participation data?  Could it be that they are suppressing numbers that could embarrass both VDOE and a number of school divisions?

Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, argues (see, also this) that “whenever you have large stakes, an opportunity for wrong-doing, and a small risk of getting caught, wrong-doing happens. . . .  When humans can cheat, they do.” 

Given VDOE’s interest in high SOL scores, should we suspect that they are hiding something here?

In light of VDOE’s track record of hiding and manipulating data (see this and this and this and this and this and this), the answer is obvious.

Accreditation and Not

VDOE has updated its 2015-16 Accreditation data.

I earlier discussed their byzantine, opaque process for accrediting Virginia’s public schools.

Well, some of those schools.  You won’t find a rating for Maggie Walker, for instance, because VDOE counts the scores of the MW students at high schools they don’t attend.  And that just scratches the surface of the “adjustments” that boosted the accreditation scores this year by 6.1%.

This year they made it even easier to avoid “Accreditation Denied” by relabeling some denied schools as “Partially Accredited: Approaching Benchmark-Pass Rate” or “Partially Accredited: Improving School-Pass Rate, or “Partially Accredited: Reconstituted School,” among others.

Adjustments or not, relabeling or not, VDOE could not get entirely away from Richmond’s second-from-last place performance on the reading tests or its sixth-from-last place on the math tests.  The initial accreditation results showed Richmond with 37.8% accredited, v. 77.6% of the state’s schools and, more to the point here, with 15.6% “To Be Determined.”  VDOE now has acted on five of the seven Richmond TBDs, which bumps the Accreditation Denied rate from 4.4% to 8.9% and the Reconstituted rate from zero to 6.7%.  Here are the new data:

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Note that one of the new schools is Elkhardt/Thompson; the relabeling converts Thompson’s earlier “Denied” rating into “New School.”  All told, 53% of the Richmond schools were warned or denied accreditation this year with two schools still TBD and another failed middle school, Thompson, hiding in the definitional weeds.

The keel of this sinking ship is the middle schools: King denied; Hill improving;  Binford, Brown, and Henderson reconstituted; Elkhardt/Thompson new and camouflaging the denied Thompson.  Only Franklin, which includes both middle and high school grades, is fully accredited.

Data are here.