November 21, 2014

School Performance Profiles distort the picture of student achievement

Distorted classroom

For the second year in a row, Pennsylvania School Performance Profiles are little more than a source of confusion and frustration for school districts and educators.

The profiles are the Pennsylvania Department of Education's (PDE) "public school report cards.'' in which each school receives a building-wide measure of school achievement. The profiles replace the Adequate Yearly Progress component of No Child Left Behind, and make up 15 percent of teachers' evaluation scores.

PDE released the 2013-14 profile scores in early November, several months too late to be factored into teachers' individual evaluations for the school year.

Questions about validity
Several school districts have questioned the validity of the data incorporated into this year's scores, and education policy experts continue to cite numerous concerns with the validity of the profiles and how scores impact school districts and educators.

"While PSEA supports examining multiple measures of academic performance, we have serious concerns about the validity and use of the School Performance Profiles," said PSEA Vice President Jerry Oleksiak. "These scores are based in large part on standardized tests that give only a snapshot of student achievement, and should not be used to measure school effectiveness or evaluate educators. We look forward to engaging in discussions with Gov.-elect Wolf's new administration on this issue."

Oleksiak also pointed out that the profile scores do not take into account the devastating consequences of Gov. Tom Corbett's nearly $1 billion in school funding cuts, which disproportionately impact students in the state's poorest communities(link to report).

Independent research links the profile scores and poverty
Ed Fuller, executive director of the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy Analysis, Penn State University, published a 2014 policy brief criticizing the scores.  

"The Commonwealth's [School Performance Profile] scores are strongly associated with student- and school-characteristics, thus are inaccurate measures of school effectiveness. SPP scores, in factor, are more accurate indicators of the percentage of economically disadvantaged students in a school than of the effectiveness of a school."

Read the policy brief here.

Concerns about evaluations
As educators face the second year of the state's new teacher evaluation system, many have concerns about the profile scores' impact on their evaluations.

"This is not a valid measurement of individual teacher effectiveness,'' said Oleksiak."The score is the same for every teacher in a building. How can it possibly be used to judge the effectiveness of individual teachers?''

PSEA's Professional Learning Exchange published an advisory regarding the School Performance Profile with more details about the scores. View the advisory here.

PSEA members who have concerns about the profile scores should contact their local presidents.






Member Advocacy Center

Featured Video