kitchen table math, the sequel: Education Consumers Clearinghouse - best practices

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Education Consumers Clearinghouse - best practices

I think this is the report Brett mentioned in his comment:

Executive Summary:
Educational Practices of Six Effective Tennessee Schools (pdf file)

1. Principals receive frequent reports on individual student progress towards the Tennessee curriculum standards.

2. Teachers receive frequent reports on the progress of each of their students.

3. Schools keep parents regularly informed about their children’s progress and ask the parents for assistance when children are having difficulty achieving a particular state

4. In addition to Tennessee’s TCAP examinations, these schools use supplemental tests that assess the same knowledge and skill domains sampled by the state examination.

5. Schools use criterion-referenced progress tests.

6. Schools set mastery criteria higher than those required by the state curriculum standards.

7. Principals use student progress reports scores to evaluate each teacher’s effectiveness in bringing about student achievement gain.

8. Principals and teachers collaboratively group students to optimize student progress.

9. Teachers employ supplemental learning activities when one or more students are having difficulty achieving a particular objective, even though the rest of students have mastered
that skill.

10. Teachers who are experiencing difficulty in particular areas of teaching are mentored by the principal and other teachers.

11. Teachers and principals select activities that allow students to practice the knowledge and skills that will be tested.

12. Schools have adopted school-wide programs that reward positive social and academic student behaviors.

13. Principals acquire additional resources to help teachers whose students are making insufficient progress.

14. Schools survey parents annually to assess satisfaction with the school’s services.

Heaven on Earth.


LynnG said...

Can someone give me a good definition or resource to distinguish criterion-referenced testing from norm-referenced?

Are there any other broad categories of testing that I should know about?

I'm thinking I need to learn a lot more about the testing instruments that we use to determine whether or not progress is being made.

What kind of test is NAEP?

Jenny D. said...

Catherine, can you please remove me as a contributor to KTM? I've tried to get in touch with email I have for you, but so far no response. So I'll leave a comment and see if this reaches you. Thanks.

Catherine Johnson said...

Oh, sorry!

I may have a different email address now ---

Catherine Johnson said...

I think the distinction between criterion- & norm-referenced is simple (if it's not someone while chime in, I hope):

Norm-referenced means the test-taker is compared to other test-takers: to the norms for his or her age group, education group, etc.

The SAT is a norm-referenced test.

Criterion-referenced means the test assesses whether the student knows the material that has been taught. As far as I know all the state tests are criterion-referenced.

Everyone these days seems to think that criterion-referenced testing is far more important than norm-referenced, but I'm thinking this may not apply in "high-performing" districts like mine.

I need to know where C. stands vis a vis his peers throughout the country, not just whether he can pass a state test on the NY curriculum.

It's definitely true (I gather) that norm-referenced testing isn't a great way to test a particular curriculum.

Brett said...

Yes, that's the right report. I should note that it's a very bare-bones summary of the practices they found at the schools in question; ECF will have a more complete version, which includes citations related to the value of these practices, in the next month or two.


Catherine Johnson said...

ECF will have a more complete version, which includes citations related to the value of these practices, in the next month or two.

Hi, Brett!

Thanks so much for posting. I was blown away by the executive summary, which I'll forward to our school board & administration. I think it's going to be very helpful, in part because the board is really thinking about these issues. Informally, board members have been asking parents about the tutoring situation here (with many parents hiring teachers in the district to tutor their kids).

The cumulative effect of the summarized points is powerful.

Nowhere do you see "School tells parent to hire tutor" --- but beyond this you see, in all of the bulletted points, the school assuming responsibility for student achievement.

Catherine Johnson said...

If you're still around, is there a reason why the top 6 schools are poor??

Were there no middle-class or affluent schools in the top 6 or 10?

If so, why do you think that is?

Brett said...

Hi Catherine,

Guy Bruce (author of the report) picked these schools from a pool of 18, which were the winners of this year's Value-Added Achievement Awards (an annual award program from the ECF). I don't know why the ones he selected were mostly high-poverty, but I do believe there were some affluent schools among the winners. I'll see if I can find that information to verify.

On a related note, we did look at the correlation between value-added achievement and free/reduced lunch status, and found almost no correlation (R=.0012). You can see the scatterplot by going to and scrolling down to Section II and opening the "Poverty versus Performance Chart" (a PDF file).

Again, I'll look for those numbers on the winners - I'm pretty sure they weren't all high-poverty.


Brett said...

Hi Catherine,

I ran the numbers, and it looks like a good spread among the winning schools - the lowest free/reduced lunch rate was 20.6%, the highest was 97.0%, and the majority were in the 40-70% range. Seems like a fairly normal distribution, given that the average of all Tennessee schools is 57.6%.

Catherine Johnson said...


thank you -

I'm thinking I've seen the scatterplot (did eduwonk run it??)

Is there any way you can see what the qualities of high-performing schools amongst the middle class and affluent schools were??

(I'll try to get your two comments pulled up front. This is ENORMOUSLY helpful.)

I can't wait for value-added to come to Irvington.

Catherine Johnson said...

This post has been extremely interesting to me....

I've been worried about data-based decisionmaking, etc., because it's so open to cherry-picking, which we've already seen here in our district.

But as I think about what these schools are doing, it strikes me that the one place where anyone can use data well is at the individual level.

For instance, I have now restarted weight loss charts for the kids...and a work chart for me.

These things work, and require no knowledge of statistics.

"Keeping data" on an individual seems like just an extension of counting, which people know how to do instinctively; we're born with a concept of number. (I believe - I should check that...)

Does that seem right?

Or am I missing something?

Brett said...

Hi Catherine,

Once we start talking about instructional difference at high/low poverty schools, we're out of my range of knowledge. I believe there are differences in approach, but you should talk with someone with more knowledge in the area than me. I'd encourage you to touch base with John Stone of ECF; his contact information can be found on the site.

But I do know that gathering and using data at all levels has great value. Even though Tennessee reports only school-level TVAAS data publicly, administrators and teachers can access reports at the teacher level (to see which teachers are producing gains) and at the student level. In fact, schools are supposed to make students' data available to parents, which would be fantastic: find out now, rather than later, whether your child is on track to succeed in college. Unfortunately this rarely happens as I understand it - parents don't know about it and schools don't volunteer it.