Education — March 1, 2014 at 12:35 pm

MEAP scores refute Education Achievement Authority claims of success, some areas show WORSENING results


Not an authority on education achievement, apparently

A couple of weeks ago, after listening to a WKAR interview with Education Achievement Authority Chancellor John Covington and the lawmaker who sponsored the bill that would expand the EAA statewide, Lisa Lyons, I wondered aloud if perhaps Ms. Lyons had already seen the MEAP scores that were released yesterday. Lyons, the chair of the House Education Committee derided the MEAP as all but useless, despite the fact that the MEAP is actually the yardstick by which schools are measured for placement into the EAA in the first place. Here’s what she said:

It’s universally accepted that MEAP scores just don’t adequately reflect student growth whether it’s from the students in the EAA or where my kids go to school … The scores we get this year won’t tell us much because — and I don’t know what the scores will be, but they won’t tell us much because it’s not the same batch of kids, the same students who were tested on the MEAP last year. Those students are now in fourth grade. We’re testing, on the MEAP, a whole new set of students who came from second grade who are now in third grade. So that won’t measure what the students are actually achieving and learning as a result of the EAA education model.

When I heard that, it made me wonder if she was pushing hard to have her EAA expansion bill passed before the MEAP scores were released so that she wouldn’t have to answer hard questions about why the EAA should be expanded if its claims of student achievement weren’t supported by actual data. Yesterday’s release of MEAP results seems to indicate that this is exactly what is happening. The results for EAA schools show virtually no improvement in the students’ mean test scores in mathematics, science, social studies, writing, and reading. Only in reading are more than 10% of the students proficient and that’s in only half of the grade levels.

This is in sharp contrast to the rhetoric coming from EAA administrators like Chancellor Covington. In an “Open letter to the Community”, also printed as an op-ed in the Detroit News, Covington boasted about the EAA’s success:

The students in the 15 EAA schools in Detroit have made strong academic progress since we began operating those schools in Sept. 2012. Thanks to our dedicated staff, parents, community support and stakeholders in our first year of operation, 59 percent of students achieved 1.5 or more year’s growth in reading and 58 percent of students achieved 1.5 or more year’s growth in math.

These claims are not supported by the yardstick used to measure schools for inclusion in the EAA and they certainly do not warrant expanding the program statewide. Nonetheless, Covington is spinning the MEAP results as if they somehow ARE indicative of improvements in the education of the students in the EAA using their experimental teaching model:

“We are excited about the signs of progress, but we must understand that too many children are still achieving at low levels and are still behind, and we must remain absolutely committed helping them continue to make progress every day in the months and years to come,” Covington said.

Reading that, Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity comes to mind.

The thing to realize is that this isn’t only a matter of EAA schools not showing improvement. In fact, they are showing WORSE results in some cases:

This is the second year EAA students have taken the MEAP. The 2012 results were more reflective of their time in DPS. But this year’s results provide a picture of how much influence the EAA is having on student achievement.

Overall pass rates were low for the 12 schools directly operated by the EAA — ranging from 0% to 3.8% in math and 8.2% to 31.8% in reading — and showed declines in some areas from 2012 results. The three EAA schools that were turned into independent charters showed mostly improved results from last school year to this school year.

But EAA leaders are encouraged by growth data showing whether students’ performance improved, got worse or remained unchanged. In math, 21% of students at schools run directly by the EAA made progress while 36.1% got worse. In reading, 38.5% improved and 35.6% declined.

I find it hard to believe that anyone is encouraged by results showing over a third of students’ test results actually getting worse.

I put forth a proposal before that I will reiterate:

For every we school we place into the SSRRSD, whether it’s into the EAA or some other “option”, a school from a wealthy district must also be placed there so that the children in more affluent districts can benefit from the miracles being offered by charters, the EAA, and the corporations that tell us they have a better educational mousetrap.

Let’s see how parents in the affluent school districts of Michigan feel about instituting an educational model that results in a third of their students doing worse from one year to the next.

The Education Achievement Authority, Governor Snyder’s education experiment with Detroit students, should not only NOT be expanded, it should be disbanded in favor of a real “Education Surge” in our state’s most challenged school districts.

By the way, Governor Snyder will be making a campaign stop at the Brenda Scott Academy on Monday morning between 9:00 and 11:30 a.m. where he’ll read to students in the 1st and 2nd grade, make an announcement and then take questions from the media. Stop by and ask him why he wants to spread this to other schools when there is no evidence that it is working in the 12 schools where it’s currently being implemented.