Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dr. Kevin Russell to Host 2/20/14 Meeting on "Interpreting MAP Assessment Results"

Today parents received an email reminding them of tomorrow night's meeting at Elm School (6:30 p.m.) hosted by Dr. Kevin Russell, the Co-Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction).  The topic of the meeting is "Interpreting MAP Assessment Results." We have copied the email below.
According to the email, parents are encouraged to bring their children's recent Winter and Fall MAP test results, in order to be able to "actively participate."  We hope "actively participate" will mean more than parents looking at the score reports and comparing them to general informational slides presented by Dr. Russell via a power point presentation.  We hope parents will be allowed to ask questions and receive answers.  If so, we encourage any parent who attends to ask the following questions:
1.  We understand that at least one school experienced technical difficulties during the MAP testing.  As a result, some students were unable to "complete" their tests (meaning their test did not "end" when they could no longer answer questions, but they were told to stop because time was up).  We have been told that computers loaded the tests slowly or froze in the middle of tests and some students had to restart the test.  Many students ran out of time.  So the question to ask is:  Are the test results valid?  Do the scores accurately reflect a student's knowledge of the test subject? If not, have parents been told to disregard the scores and is the district disregarding them as well?
2.  What training have teachers received on test score interpretation and the use of the "Descartes?" Do teachers ever discuss the "Descartes" with parents, and if so, when?
3.  What analysis, if any, has the Assessment Department conducted on how Math MAP scores have been impacted over the last 3 years as a result of compacting 3rd and 4th grade math during 3rd grade?  The comparison would be this year's 3rd grade MAP scores to those 3rd grade MAP scores from 2 years ago. Have Math MAP scores gone up, gone down or stayed the same?  If an analysis has been done, when will it be presented to the BOE and the community?
4.  What analysis, if any, has the Assessment Department conducted on how Math MAP scores have been impacted over the last 2 years as a result of accelerating all 4th grade math students by one year (so they are learning 5th grade math)?  The comparison would be this year's 4th grade MAP scores compared to last year's 4th grade scores. Have Math MAP scores gone up, gone down or stayed the same?  If an analysis has been done, when will it be presented to the BOE and the community?
5.  What analysis, if any, has the Assessment Department conducted on how Math MAP scores of students who OPTED up in middle school math have been impacted?  If an analysis has been done, when will it be presented to the BOE and the community?
6.  What analysis, if any, has the Assessment Department conducted on how the Language Arts MAP scores have been impacted as a result of the changes to the literacy model currently being used in D181?  If an analysis has been done, when will it be presented to the BOE and the community?
7.  In the past, when MAP presentations were given, the Assessment Director gave the presentation. (The first assessment director D181 hired was Lori Gehrke, the second one was Bonnie Strykowski, the third one was Dr. Russell, the current one is Dawn Benaitis.) Today's reminder announces that Dr. Russell will be the presenter along with "the Department of Learning." Will Ms. Benaitis -- a highly paid administrator -- run this meeting? Will she explain how to interpret MAP data and do more than read from a script? Will she answer parent questions and address parent concerns? Since she was promoted to replace Dr. Russell as the Director of Assessment when he was promoted to Co-Assistant Superintendent of Learning, shouldn't she be handling "all things assessment?"As taxpayers, you have the right to ask and receive an answer to questions on the "value added" by yet another highly paid central administrator.  
We hope that parents who attend the meeting will submit comments reflecting on what transpires during the meeting and any useful information you may learn.
Email from District:
Thursday, February 20
“Interpreting MAP Assessment Results”

A Presentation in the Learning for All Family Education Series
Elm School, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

No pre-registration required.
Assistant Superintendent of Learning (CAI) Dr. Kevin Russell and the Department of Learning will present an overview of the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment used in Grades 2-8. Attendees will learn how MAP is used to help guide instruction in District 181 schools. The session will close with an overview of how parents can interpret the data in their child’s results. Parents are encouraged to bring their child’s fall and/or winter MAP scores to actively participate. Visit our website to learn more about each event in the Learning for All Family Education Series and access select videotaped > Learning > Family Education Series.


Anonymous said...

Last year Ms. Benaitis told the Monroe community that only 50% of students could meet growth because it is an average.

Before you posted this post, I was searching through board docs trying to determine what the 4th grade average math RIT was last year. I could not find any winter MAP presentation. Did the BOE really allow the administration not to report this data - especially during the first year of this plan? The 4th grade math average RIT this year is 224. What was it last year? Also, please keep in mind that many parents are tutoring 2-3 times a week. Therefore, the scores should be drastically higher if the administration wants to claim acceleration is a success.

Anonymous said...

Please do not expect Ms. Benaitis to be able to explain the MAP assessment results. She wasn't able to do it when she was at Monroe, but she always told us "she had the data" and our 3rd graders (current 4th graders) were better off than previous years. Clearly that was not the case.

The previous commenter is absolutely correct. Ms. Benaitis told the Monroe community that only 50% of students could meet growth because it is an average and when it was pointed out that that is not the case and Oak had 80% meeting growth targets, she didn't know how to respond.

In all fairness, I believe Dr. Schuster also made the same flawed statement during a BOE meeting last spring.

Monroe Parent

Anonymous said...

We still don't know how many 4th grade students are being tutored, not counting the recent 25% identified for after school tutoring. That did nothing for MAP.

Anonymous said...

Raise MAP test scores – Here are two somewhat unorthodox strategies to raise test scores that parents can support without delay.

(1) Red shirting strategy – by holding children back one-grade level to boost test scores. While psychologically risky to the children’s self-esteem, the test score results are immediate and profound.

(2) HB1 Visa support program – Targeting HB1 Visa recruiting to certain select groups/countries to raise weighted test scores. These people’s kids often spend so much time studying they are almost unnoticed in the local community yet their impact on test scores is extraordinary. They also tend to be “low-impact” on sports budgets.

All it takes is money and that’s a playing field where our “win rate” is pretty high.

These strategies have been quietly implemented in several Marin County schools with amazing results in short order.

Anonymous said...

Red shirting and Visa support? Seriously??

jay_wick said...

Re: Seriously

While the call for "gaming" the student population seems to be an attempt at humor I would urge parents and community members to think of how we got to this point.

While it might very well be the case that some folks take the scores themselves too seriously there ought to be legitimate concerns that the district has been pressured into making changes for all the wrong reasons.

The BOE and the administration should have laid out a coherent reason for "acceleration for all". They did not. The district should have taken steps to ensure that all teachers had clear understanding of how best to meet goals and keep all students performing at a high level, no such steps were taken.

Make no mistake, the real "educational malpractice" that has happened in our district has been the reactionary dismantlement of effective strategies that allowed the greatest number of students to perform at their capacity.

The place we are now in -- a departing superintendent leaving behind of legacy of distrust, confused curricular issues, dissatisfaction with standardized test results, costs that have risen for tutoring with little positive benefit and facilities crises that have caused parents to question safety are all attributable to the dereliction of responsibility that the majority of the BOE has demonstrated.

These are not laughing matters.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why the administration decides to compress two years into one to get this acceleration to work? Why not spread it out a bit? Maybe teach three years worth of instruction into two years?

Anonymous said...

Why the administration did what they did is the big question. Well what is actually happening is that some of the 4th grades district wide are having a hard time getting through the 5th grade material. They haven't been able to accelerate the way they stated b/c not all of the students are cognitiviely ready for it. The 4th grades district wide are in different places in the 5th grade curriculum. A quarter of the grade district wide has now been identified as needing 4th grade math. Hopefully a new SI can get in here and stop this madness before these 4th graders get to middle school.

jay_wick said...

Re: Compressing math

The link that was included earlier to the standards adopted by the California State BOE included a graphic that showed "compression" happening not in the elementary school but after 6th & 7th grades so that some 8th graders would still be taking Algebra and all students would be able to take Calculus before leaving high school -- California BOE Graphic

The logic behind this is fairly sound -- middle schoolers are already accustomed to being assigned to different math classes, middle school teachers that are math specialists would presumably have a wider range of teaching strategies to ensure success for all, and developmentally older children can probably better handle the challenges of math compression. Conceptually this could either fit with the current situation where a small number of elementary school students are "doubly accelerated" or other strategies that had diifferent kinds of support for students that needed more help / enrichment for students that would otherwise be bored. Ideally such differentiation strategies could be developed in cooperation by teachers working collaboratively with local experts. It is entirely conceivable that the desire to fulfill a mission of "social justice" that reaches across economic tiers could see teachers from our district working with teachers at something like Chicago's Teacher's Academy for Math And Science Never Too Late to Learn: Lessons from the Teachers Academy for Math and Science TAMS addressed the problem of teaching mathematics and science to children, especially in grades below six. Positive experiences with mathematics and science from children’s earliest schooling increase both their knowledge base and the likelihood they will choose career paths related to those fields.
Our specific experience points to the positive outcomes of a rigorous program of classroom-based teacher training. President Obama and others have focused their reform ideas on attracting new blood to the teaching profession; TAMS showed that working teachers, including the most senior veterans, are eager to learn new strategies to help their students learn the math and science they will need to succeed in further education and in life.

Of course this downside of a solution that separated out students by ability (as Oak Brook's D53 does) is that it would again open the door to questions previously raised by parents who felt their children were doing "dumb math" vs "smart math". One might, however, think that a sufficient;y researched policy of acceleration would be a better strategy than mollifying squeaky wheels in an expedient matter and then suffering the consequences of ill thought-out last minute changes.

Further if teachers were given sufficient support in implementing the Cognitive-Affective Model that Dr. Friedman found to be most promising the overall level of student success should show improvement...

Anonymous said...

Instead of attempting to roll out a new math curriculum, accelerate by 2 years, eliminate math tiers and expect teachers to differentiate more than they had in years, eliminate pull-outs and ACE for those kids who needed it AND prepare for the Common Core, the administration should have picked one or two items to focus on in the short-term and addressed other issues when those tasks were complete. It was obviously simply too much to ask of teachers, parents, students and even the administrators who proposed it, to do it all. Add to this a home-made math curriculum that was poorly designed and you have a recipe for disaster that is now making itself known with tutoring and significant parent and student dissatisfaction. Yes, the fault has to lie with a hands-off BOE who dismissed parents who raised obvious concerns as over-anxious parents of ACE kids who were upset that their kids weren't going to be "special" anymore. Yes, there may have been a few of those but there were far more parents who were asking basic questions about the efficiency and effectiveness of the L4A plan all along. Not to mention many who asked for any kind of data showing that the plan had/could work. The majority of the BOE stated that they had hired Drs. Schuster and Schneider to be the experts on this plan and that's true. However, at a certain point, when it is obvious that a good number of parents and teachers are expressing dissatisfaction and test scores are dropping, you must get more involved and dig deeper. To continue to say that you don't want to "micro-manage" is a cop out and, at that point, reflects either laziness, lack of self-confidence to do the job you were elected to do or lack of concern for the education of the students in this district. I appreciate that this is a demanding volunteer position but stepping down is an option and those on the BOE who are no longer interested in doing the job should step down and let others who are interested step up. Additionally, the fact that a plan of this magnitude was created and rolled out in what amounted to a relatively short time was unacceptable and would never have happened in a successful business. Community Engagement meetings, surveys and the like should have occurred before decisions were made, not after. Hopefully at this point D181 parents are more informed and tuned in. Now the challenge is for parents to stay involved, ask questions and listen with open minds. There are many issues and viewpoints on the table and they all should be respected. Parents have an obligation to spend the time to educate themselves and not just believe the hype and sound bites. The information is out there and we all need to be informed or suffer the consequences of our inattention.

jay_wick said...

Re: Too much

It is almost certainly true that district decided to take on too many initiatives. The fact is that expanded foreign language was also on their plate and I asked that be removed despite the fact that there is good research that underscores the value of fluency in multiple languages.

In hindsight the decisions to try to be "all things to all people" problem stems from the personal characteristics of some of the BOE members and the district leadership. To be blunt sometimes you have to just be able to say "no" when experience tells you that your plate is too full...

Anonymous said...

More sports options imperative for HMS – More sports options at HMS will undoubtedly create a spillover effect for MAP test results.

This is especially evident in boys’ test results who are traditionally kinesthetic learners and benefit greatly from the availability of a multitude of sports options and play – critical for the leadership roles they will fulfill in our patriarchal society moving forward.

Anonymous said...

More sports would be nice, but it would be yet another example of the district spreading itself too thin in so many ways. Right now, the focus needs to be 1) no mold 2) boost up academics. Everything else is gravy for a turkey that hasn't even been cooked. Let's slow down and focus on getting a qualified superintendent here who can help make our kids feel good again about their math skills. Wick's research on professional development and teacher training on how to teach math is absolutely true and verifiable. (Our parents want teachers to do this during the summer so that we don't have to pay for subs).

Anonymous said...

Patriarchal society? HB1Visa support program? How backwards/redneck can you be? This is a perfect example of why we SHOULD NOT focus on team sports instead of education.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone go tonight?