Friday, December 12, 2014

CPS score-rigging adds new meaning to 'growth'

In yesterday's post on Chicago's reported gains in graduation and college completion rates, I added this qualifier:
 If that is, you have faith in the transparency of the system and faith that the researchers are measuring the same thing. I don't. But that's for another blog post.
Well, here's that post. 

Today's Sun-Times reports that CPS quietly changed some growth scores from standardized test results released in August, resulting in a rise in school ratings for seven charter schools. AAPPLE, an activist arm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, pointed out the discrepancies after school ratings were released last week — differences the Sun-Times confirmed in its own analysis.

AAPPLE head Troy LaRaviere has called for a full investigation by the district’s inspector general.
“In a system based on ‘choice,’ parents and other stakeholders must be provided with accurate indicators of school quality. [CPS’ ratings system] cannot serve this purpose if there are clouds of suspicion about tampering with the data used to determine these ratings,” LaRaviere said in an email.
Furthermore, he said, “the changing of scores happened without any public disclosure.” CPS would not say why the ratings usually released in October around school report card pickup were delayed.
The back-room rigging of growth scores proved an embarrassment even to the charter schools whose scores were raised.  The chief of strategy (yes, they have such a position) for Chicago International Charter School, which saw ratings for four of its schools rise, agreed.
“I would have preferred the asterisk. We essentially asked for an asterisk at one point,” Daniel Anello said. CICS had always used the test that wasn’t aligned to the Common Core through the school year to measure their students’ learning, so they saw no reason to change it while it remained an option, he said.
Figures don't lie, but liars sure can figure.


  1. "In a system based on ‘choice,’ parents and other stakeholders must be provided with accurate indicators of school quality."

    Any suggestions what those indicators should be? Even if we could be completely confident that test scores are accurate and untampered with (which, of course, we could never be, considering Campbell's Law), does anyone really want to claim that test scores are any kind of real indication of school quality?

  2. I don't think they are "any kid of real indication of school quality", Dienne. But they are a real indicator of inequality which is why CPS is tampering with them.

    1. I agree with you. It just bothers me that Troy LaRaviere, of all people, seems to think test scores are an indication of school quality.

  3. Dienne,
    I don't know if he thinks that or not. But his issue here seems to be one of transparency and accuracy of data used by the system to rank schools. I think you and I might question the very premise and purpose of such school rankings. But here in Chicago, the lack of transparency and even systemic rigging of numbers and misuse of test scores has become a major issue.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.