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16.10.08

BESE needs to reinforce honesty by banning dishonesty

From their earliest days, schoolchildren are taught to not to cheat. Their elders on certain school boards could take a lesson from their charges.

In particular, the East Baton Rouge School Board is weighing a plan to adjust accountability scores for their schools. Following the precedents set by Jefferson and Iberia Parishes, rather than compute test scores for a school based upon all students attending that school, they want to gimmick the process by taking scores of students attending magnet schools and count them towards the schools in their attendance zones (if not already in it). Typically, this would have the effect of raising the averages at the home schools which may help some of them avoid being designated as unacceptable and whose governance then could be transferred outside of the district.

Supporters argue this already is done for alternative school students, or those who have learning or behavioral problems, and that it has been sanctioned in the other two parishes. The state’s highest school board, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, has no current policy on this but some members are sympathetic to the EBRPSS argument.


They shouldn’t be. For one thing, comparing what is done to alternative and magnet schools is like comparing apples to oranges. Alternative schools exist because of special education needs that detract from performance, the outcome of interest. Therefore, it makes sense not to treat them the same way as far as accountability goes. At the same time, however, it is an imperfect solution to count their test scores against their home schools because the home school had nothing to do with their education. That practice should be banned and instead a different set of criteria established to assess accountability at alternative schools using the test scores registered by their attendees.

For another thing, the shuffling of magnet students in Jefferson basically has no impact on its schools accountability scores. Not dispersing them would hardly have changed almost any of its schools’ test scorings significantly, because relatively few students get placed into magnet programs, and remedial program students’ scores also are counted back to their home schools. The impact probably would be much greater in East Baton Rouge because its proportion of students in magnet schools is about half again as high as that in Jefferson.

But dispersal of scores of any kind simply is dishonest. The school students attend, not the school in their attendance zone, is the one educating them. One might see why East Baton Rouge might want to cover up its miserable performance, with 22 or 27.5 percent of its schools currently rated unacceptable and eligible to be taken out of the district’s hands, with another 34 or 42.5 percent teetering on the brink of falling into this category. That’s no excuse.

BESE is going to “study” the issue. Integrity demands it conclude to compute the accountability scores for a school using only those students actually educated at them.

1 comment:

James S said...

The fact that EBR proposes to do this at all is appalling but not nearly as disgusting as is their piteous moaning about this being an equity issue. It is blatantly dishonest. I anxiously await another opportunity to vote on a school tax...