Texas Projection Measure divides superintendents


July 30, 2010 at 2:30 a.m.

Crossroads superintendents are split over the value of a state measure designed to give schools extra credit for failing students.

"The state has always had some kind of method for, I guess, cooking the books," said Bloomington superintendent Brad Williams.

The Texas Projection Measure uses a complex formula to predict whether a failing student will pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills in the future. The campus or district then receives extra credit on their ratings based on those estimates.

The state is asking school districts for feedback on how to improve the measure, which is in its second year of use.

"It's a new system," said DeEtta Colbertson, spokesperson with TEA. If it needs to be revamped, the state will do so, she said.

This year, nine schools in the Victoria school district achieved their rating because of the measure, while eight earned the measure on their own and four earned the rating from a combination of required improvement and the new measure.

"We know there is some controversy over the additional ratings mechanisms, especially the Texas Projection Measure," Victoria superintendent Bob Moore said. "I feel very confident that our schools earned the ratings they received. Across the board, almost every school saw increases in the TAKS passing rates for all tests and for all student groups."

The measure is required by the legislature and at the federal level to show academic growth. The state's "required improvement" measure is another way districts and campuses can earn extra credit. But only the measure is based on an idea that a student will perform better in the future.

"I just think it creates these false passing scores," said Moulton superintendent Michael Novotny. His district would have been rated recognized, but with the rating was pushed to exemplary.

Novotny refers to the Texas Projection Measure as a "crystal ball," and although his district has benefited, he plans to write the state to do away with it.

"I'm going to suggest discontinuing the TPM but also looking more holistically at our scores so you're not just rated on one subgroup on one test," he said.

Sonya Little, Nordheim superintendent, supports the measure and hopes the state keeps it.

"I can understand both sides of the argument," she said.

The measure also raised her district to an exemplary rating. Little shares the projection with students as a way to encourage students to keep trying to pass their TAKS test.

The test "kind of beats them down a little bit," she said, "and if we can show the students their TPM shows them as most likely to pass in the next two years, it will encourage them to try the very best and not give up."



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