Sunday, September 14, 2014

COBBS: Changes present new challenges

By RYAN COBBS, Ottawa High School | 4/1/2013

I previously have discussed the assessment program at Ottawa High School and noted it will undergo a dramatic change next year. Moving from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) into Common Core Standards and Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) will be no small task. My purpose in this column is to help those outside of the educational realm have a greater understanding of what lies ahead for our students, teachers and our school overall.  Six AMOs have been established, though we are not yet sure how many of them we will be required to meet.

• The Achievement AMO is relative to the schools’ Assessment Performance Index or API. Each of our students is assigned a grade of “Academic Warning,” “Approaches Standards,” “Meets Standards,” “Exceeds Standards” or “Exemplary,” based on the number of correct scores. These levels are appointed a value. The sum of those averages divided by the number of our students makes what is now known as the API.

I previously have discussed the assessment program at Ottawa High School and noted it will undergo a dramatic change next year. Moving from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) into Common Core Standards and Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) will be no small task. My purpose in this column is to help those outside of the educational realm have a greater understanding of what lies ahead for our students, teachers and our school overall.  Six AMOs have been established, though we are not yet sure how many of them we will be required to meet.

• The Achievement AMO is relative to the schools’ Assessment Performance Index or API. Each of our students is assigned a grade of “Academic Warning,” “Approaches Standards,” “Meets Standards,” “Exceeds Standards” or “Exemplary,” based on the number of correct scores. These levels are appointed a value. The sum of those averages divided by the number of our students makes what is now known as the API.

In the past, AYP was simply a measure of how many students had earned the ranking of “Meets Standards” or above as a percentage of a whole. Under the API ranking, schools now will be graded on the overall level of students, creating an importance on not only our students earning the highest “grade” on the assessment, but also improving the scores of those in the lower range.

The achievement AMO is categorized with several indicators including the overall API of the school, the rate of improvement expected for the next year, and the level in which the school is associated with the rest of the state. For instance, a Level 1 school is in the lowest 25 percent, a Level 2 school is in between 26 percent and 50 percent, a Level 3 school is between 51 percent and 75 percent, and a Level 4 school obviously is in the top 25 percentile of all schools in the state in that area.

• For a school to achieve the Growth AMO, a school must have a median student growth score that meets or exceeds those of half the schools in the state of Kansas. This means there will be an overall range of scores from small to largest of every score earned throughout the state. Our schools’ scores also will be ranked with the score lying directly in the middle of all scores listed from smallest to largest being compared to the state’s overall list. If our median score exceeds that of half the other schools, we will meet the AMO. This does, in fact, mean that half of all schools in the state not only will not, but cannot meet the AMO for growth on any given year.

• The goal of the Reduction of Non-Proficient AMO is to reduce the percentage of non-proficient (RNP) student by half by the 2017-18 school year. The RNP calculation is applied at the district, building and subgroup level to create a unique RNP AMO for each. What this means is that our school will be graded on how many of our students we move from “Academic Warning” and “Approaches Standards” to “Meets Standards.” Furthermore, it breaks this category down further into “types” of students. These groups consist of “All Students,” “Free and Reduced Lunch Students,” “Students with Disabilities,” and “English Language Learners,” as well as grouping students by ethnicity. If we have more than 30 students who fit into any one of these categories, a sub-group is created and then scored as its own entity on top of the school scores. Therefore, if OHS decreases its overall achievement gap but fails to close the gap with, for example, our “Free and Reduced Lunch Students,” we would not meet this AMO.

These levels of performance account for half of how schools will be graded and measured against one another in the years to come. In my next column, I will finish with an explanation of the next three AMOs (GAP, Graduation Rate, and Participation Rate) and how these scores and the new assessment will change how we teach, how much time we have in the classroom and the learning expectations of our students.  

Dr. Ryan Cobbs is principal at Ottawa High School. Email him at cobbsr@usd290.org or call (785) 229-8020.

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