Texas Education Agency Commissioner Robert Scott takes advantage of a friendly audience to lash out at critics of the Texas Projection Measure.
Scott, speaking to the State Board of Education, said the so-called Texas Projection Measure has been misunderstood and misrepresented by critics who contend the policy gives a false impression of school performance.
The complex formula allows schools and districts to count as passing some students who actually fail the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills if the projection measure shows they are likely to pass in a future year.
“There is a little bit of election year politics going on here,” Scott said. “It is very easy to demagogue. It is very easy for someone to say they gave students credit for failing.”
Too bad he didn’t have the guts to say this to Scott Hochberg. It would have been nice to know how he would have answered those questions, instead of leaving his assistants to hang out to dry.
The commissioner also pointed to scores of e-mails from superintendents, principals and teachers across the state who wrote that the projection measure was beneficial for their students and schools — and should be retained. The Dallas Morning News obtained copies of all e-mails received by the Texas Education Agency through the beginning of this week.
“Please keep TPM and do not suspend the use of the TPM for school accountability ratings,” said Lewisville High School Principal Brad Burns, reflecting the viewpoints of numerous principals in Texas.
“Whether TPM was good, bad or in-between, we had children for the first time in their lives that experienced success,” wrote Temple schools Superintendent Robin Wuebker-Battershell. “Retool it if necessary, but don’t surrender the concept.”
And Weatherford High School Principal David Belding urged Scott to please “not dismantle a system that gives schools with more difficult student groups to educate the chance to be recognized for moving those students forward. That is what TPM does.”
Look, nobody is attacking the idea of a means to measure growth. My understanding is that such a thing is required by No Child Left Behind, so totally scrapping it isn’t an option. The problem is that as a way to measure the growth of students who are not already passing their tests – that is to say, to measure the growth of the students it was really designed to measure – TPM sucks. In mathematical terms, it’s a lousy model. Pointing that out isn’t politics, but distorting that criticism is. Can we please focus on the real issue, so that we have accurate data about our teachers, students, and school districts and so that the real progress they have made doesn’t get lost under the weight of a bad metric? Thanks.