Experts Submit Letter to Secretary John King on Key Measures of Accountability
July 20, 2016
More than 40 education experts sent a letter to Education Secretary John King, urging him move away from using proficiency rates as the key measure of school accountability under ESSA. The letter encourages the Dept. of Education to adopt Average Scale Scores and Proficiency Index evaluation models which, they argue, “address far more effectively than proficiency rates the core purposes of ESSA, including incentivizing more effective efforts to educate all children and providing broad discretion to states in designing their accountability systems.” Under No Child Left Behind, schools were rated on how many of their students tested as “proficient”, but new regulations under ESSA may allow for alternative metrics such as non-academic indicators and testing improvement. In an interview with Nevada Public Radio, Morgan Polikoff, associate professor at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School and letter signee, explains that percent-based proficiency ratings “only care about students right on the margin.” According to Polikoff, basing school performance on student proficiency allows students who are further behind to be ignored. He goes on to recommend an alternative assessment where schools would be held accountable based on student’s improvement on standardized tests.