August 16, 2009

What "multiple measures" looks like in reality

Friday's Sun-Sentinel article on the new evaluation scale for Florida high schools shows what happens when a state moves away from general-assessment test scores as the end-all and be-all of accountability. In this case, Florida's new scale for high schools rewards schools for graduating more students, especially those who have problems with the state assessments, for enrolling students in challenging courses, for students who succeed in the challenging courses, and for student success in voc-ed certification programs.

How are Broward County schools responding?

At South Broward High School in Hollywood, students will get the chance to take additional AP classes, such as human geography, world history, music theory and macroeconomics, in addition to more traditional offerings such as AP English and biology, said principal Alan Strauss.

They're also ready to better monitor performance of at-risk students and ensure the entire senior class is ready to graduate, Strauss said. "I say overall I would hold myself accountable for grad rate and preparing my kids for college," Strauss said. "I don't find a problem with that. I think that's what my job should be."

Surprise, surprise! A more balanced accountability mechanism leads to planning a more balanced set of programs for students. I can quibble with loads of details on the new scale, but the direction is the right one, and I think we'll know in a few years how this is going. I'll stick my neck out and predict the evidence will be reasonably good (in terms of outcomes). A small step for a single state, a giant step for accountability options.

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Posted in Accountability Frankenstein on August 16, 2009 10:29 AM |