Accountability News in Brief

Phila. District Suspends School-Rating System

By Ben Harold, Newsworks & The Philadelphia Public School Notebook — November 06, 2012 2 min read

As a result, the 146,000-student district has suspended use of its School Performance Index, or SPI, and district leaders are now seeking outside help to fix the complicated formula that converts more than a dozen factors into a single score given to every public school in the city, including charters.

“We are, at this point, confident that there were some mistakes made,” said new Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn. “We honestly don’t know how extensive the problem is.”

For the past two years, SPI scores have been used to help guide a wide range of major decisions, including which schools should be closed down or converted into charters. It has also been used to evaluate charters’ bids for renewal or expansion.

Leaders of several of the city’s charter schools long have taken issue with the index.

Mr. Kihn said the issues with SPI stem from human error in how the accountability measure was calculated—not from faulty data resulting from cheating on state standardized tests.

A state-commissioned analysis of results from 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years found evidence of widespread cheating at dozens of schools across the state, including 53 traditional public schools and three charters in Philadelphia.

The index, developed in 2009, boils down 13 indicators for elementary and middle schools, and 17 indicators for high schools, into a single score of 1-10 for each school, with 1 being the best.

For all schools, indicators relating to student scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams are weighted most heavily, and measures of parent, student, and teacher satisfaction are also taken into consideration. High schools’ success in preparing students for college and careers also factors in.

In an interview last week, Mr. Kihn acknowledged the central role that SPI has played in the district’s Renaissance Schools initiative, facilities master-planning process, and decisions regarding charter schools. But he stressed that the rankings were never “used as the sole determinant for any decision that we have made.”

The measure will be disregarded altogether as district officials target several dozen more schools for possible closure by next fall, he said.

The district first became aware of a potential problem with its performance index in May, Mr. Kihn said. An internal three-month investigation of the problem concluded in late August.

For a full report on the district’s decision go to:

Edweek Philly Ratings

A version of this article appeared in the November 07, 2012 edition of Education Week as Phila. District Suspends School-Rating System

Events

School & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Accountability Biden Education Team Squashes States' Push to Nix All Tests but Approves Other Flexibility
The department has telegraphed its decision to deny states' requests to cancel federally mandated tests for weeks.
3 min read
A first-grader learns keyboarding skills at Bayview Elementary School in San Pablo, Calif on March 12, 2015. Schools around the country are teaching students as young as 6 years old, basic typing and other keyboarding skills. The Common Core education standards adopted by a majority of states call for students to be able to use technology to research, write and give oral presentations, but the imperative for educators arrived with the introduction of standardized tests that are taken on computers instead of with paper and pencils.
The U.S. Department of Education denied some states' requests to cancel standardized tests this year. Others are seeking flexibility from some testing requirements, rather than skipping the assessments altogether.
Eric Risberg/AP
Accountability Explainer Will There Be Standardized Tests This Year? 8 Questions Answered
Educators want to know: Will the exams happen? If so, what will they look like, and how will the results be used?
12 min read
Students testing.
Getty
Accountability Opinion What Should School Accountability Look Like in a Time of COVID-19?
Remote learning is not like in person, and after nine months of it, data are revealing how harmful COVID-19 has been to children's learning.
6 min read
Image shows a speech bubble divided into 4 overlapping, connecting parts.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty and Laura Baker/Education Week
Accountability State Schools Chiefs Push Biden for Wiggle Room on Accountability During Pandemic
State schools chiefs say it's necessary to change how they use scores from mandated annual tests during the unprecedented disruption created by the coronavirus pandemic.
4 min read
Image of students taking a test.
smolaw11/iStock/Getty