Federal Opinion

What Testing Guru Bill Sanders Really Meant About Multiple Measures

By Alexander Russo — August 03, 2007 1 min read

Once in a while, I actually do some reporting, and today I happened to talk Prof. William Sanders, the testing guru whose recent letter to Congressman Miller was leaked to the press and seemed (according to an Ed Daily story) to put Sanders squarely against Miller’s proposed use of multiple measures in AYP.

Well, it turns out that Sanders is against the use of portfolios and classroom observations that are often called multiple measures, but not against end of course tests, college entrance tests, and the like that he thinks Miller is talking about. “Those things have a place,” says Sanders, who points out that they are already part of the growth model projections that he has developed and are being used in some pilot states.

To those who are concerned about the complexity and transparency of both the current AYP and proposed changes, Sanders says such intricacies are the price of a nuanced and reliable rating system. “A simple system could be developed,” he says, noting that some states are going that direction, “but it would be less reliable and more biased [than a more complex one].”

His main accountability concern, however, is not so much that the current AYP relies on “a single test” (a description he says irks him and ignores the fact that there are three years of tests and hundreds if not thousands of test item responses that go into each year’s AYP calculations), but rather that it encourages too much focus on lower-performing kids rather than “early high-achieving kids” who get ignored. He proposes a rating system that evaluates schools not only on reducing the achievement gap but also on helping already-proficient kids do even better -- apparently a part of the Tennessee pilot and perhaps what Nevada is trying to do here.

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