September 5, 2006
Last week we held our annual Open House meetings. The weather just before the 6th grade meeting on Monday (during rush hour of all times), was terrible! I know many parents were not able to attend as we had power outages and traffic problems caused by non-functioning traffic lights. Our 7th and 8th grade meeting on Tuesday was packed.
I always enjoy our Parent Open House meetings as they provide me with an opportunity to meet many of you. We began our general session with a self-running Keynote presentation, Did You Know, about our resources at Mabry and the global challenge our students will face when they enter the job market. I presented about our focus and mission here at Mabry. And this year I took a bold step and did that presentation using one of our new interactive whiteboards. Parents used ACTIVote, a wireless, handheld assessment device, to provide us with some survey information for our future planning. I wanted you to see a live demonstration of how this technology can be used in your child's class to empower learning.
Even if you were not able to attend, don't worry, we prepared a total of three podcasts of the general meeting on Monday. The first podcast is a video podcast of the self-running Keynote presentation, Did You Know. The second podcast is an audio only podcast of my presentation to the parents. And the third podcast is a video podcast of the survey results from that presentation.
You may click on the images below to view, or, in the case of the audio-only podcast, listen to these podcasts. You will also find all three of these at Podcast Central for download. You can also find them at the iTunes Store, in the podcast section. Simply do a search at the iTunes Store for "Mabry". Once you find our collection of Mabry podcasts, you can subscribe to them by clicking the "Subscribe" button. After you subscribe, as we post new podcasts they will automatically download to your computer and sync to you iPod! And it's all free!
If the slide goes by too quickly for you to read it, simply press the "Pause" button.
Click the play button above to watch Did You Know?
Click the play button above to listen to my Open House presentation to 6th grade parents.
Click the play button above to see the parent survey results from both Open House meetings.
Posted by Tim Tyson at 11:51 AM
September 1, 2006
Today I posted the CRCT data from last year which can be viewed at this link. The Mabry scores are very strong. And because the state is in the process of changing the tests and renorming them, the results look considerably different from what we have seen in the past. And, speaking of the past, because many of the tests have been rewritten and renormed, we must be very careful about making comparisons between much of last year's data and any previous year's data. Let me take just a moment to explain.
As the state is changing the state curriculum from the QCC (Quality Core Curriculum) to the GPS (Georgia Performance Standards), the state has rewritten the state criterion referenced tests to measure student mastery of the new standards. Not only are the tests completely different, but they renormed the tests as well. For example, on the old QCC test, 300 was the minimum score needed to be considered on grade level. With the new GPS-based tests, 800 is the new minimum score to be considered on grade level.
To make matters even more complex, some tests have yet to be rewritten. Therefore different scoring standards apply depending on the grade level and the test. Hopefully, in the near future, the new GPS curriculum will be completely implemented and the new GPS-based tests with their new scoring criteria will be standardized on all tests in all subjects at all grade levels K - 8.
I've prepared a table at this link to help you understand which tests in what subjects at which grade levels use QCC versus GPS, and use the old or new scoring criteria. Hopefully this table makes the information a little less confusing.
We have to use care in comparing this data to previous years. These are completely different tests. They assess a completely different curriculum. The most notable difference in the newly renormed tests is that the scores are significantly lower. I want to assure you that this more closely associated with the changes in how success is being measured than the quality of the instructional program at Mabry. Your students are still receiving a level of instruction that is widely considered among the very best in the state of Georgia.
By every measure I've seen, Mabry remains at the very top of the state. When you look at our data, especially on the newly renormed tests, you can easily see that your children are scoring significantly higher than the county as a whole and remarkably higher than the state of Georgia.
I suspect that the thing that has really changed is how the bean counters are counting the beans. I have always been puzzled at the historical practice of renorming test data. Historically student IQ and achievement have steadily and consistently risen in our country on almost every measure. As children get smarter and learn more, their test results are renormed. (For example, for 100 to remain an average IQ, as IQ increases nationally, the higher scores must be renormed if 100 is to remain the mean score.)
An unfortunate consequence of renorming is that increases in learning are effectively removed from the data. (Steady and consistent increases of 1 - 2% every year become significant over 10 or 20 years.) The public can not see that IQ and achievement scores have consistently risen when the results are renormed. And while many of our schools are certainly in need of significant improvement, the hard work, success, and achievement our students and teachers have earned nationally over the past several decades has given way to frequent depictions of failure in the media.
This was recently reaffirmed by the 38th Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. The closer a person is to the public school (parent of a student in one), the higher the perception of the school's performance. When asked about the distant concept of the quality of American public schools, the lower the perception of school performance. In other words, the perception is that the school my child attends is doing a good job, but America's public schools are doing poorly overall.
I know that I have presented some complicated statistical "stuff." My main point is this: I remain very proud of the hard work of our Mabry students and teachers and the academic achievement of our students that results from that effort. Our goal remains to maximize student achievement in a culture of caring. Part of our responsibility as the adults in our children's lives is to balance challenging them to do their best work with celebrating their hard-earned successes. As we have never expected more of children than we do today in school, I invite you to join me in celebrating our children's success so we can further encourage even greater academic success in their immediate future.
Posted by Tim Tyson at 9:22 PM