by Andrew Walden
Even after giving students the Hawaii State Assessment (HAS) test three times and hiring legions of part time teachers to go over the wrong answers to boost HSA scores, Hawaii Department of Education schools still performed miserably against the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) benchmarks set by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
But six DoE schools appealed, and after “putting misplaced students in the correct category” they have suddenly been transformed into DoE success stories. The Kauai Garden Isle August 31 reports:
The DOE on July 15 announced the preliminary AYP results, and Hanalei and Ni‘ihau PCS did not meet the standards at that time. However, the schools were among the four schools statewide that had their status changed due to a successful appeal with the Department of Education.
“There were some areas that needed to be changed,” said Nakamura, explaining that those areas included specific subgroups because some students were misplaced. “We put them in the correct category.”
Besides the Kaua‘i schools, O‘ahu’s Moanalua High and Maui’s Waihe‘e Elementary also filed successful appeals….
In addition to the successful appeals, the state also made some changes in student source date file correction that resulted in AYP status changed to “met” for Maui’s Kahului and Big Island’s Kealakehe elementary schools
As a result, the statewide AYP approval rate went up to 41%, meaning 116 of 286 schools met the federal guidelines….
State records show the final No Child Left Behind status for School Year 2011-12 finds 142 schools in “Good Standing” (50 percent), 33 in “School Improvement” (12 percent), 12 in “Corrective Action” (4 percent), 13 in “Planning for Restructuring” (5 percent), and 86 in “Restructuring” (30 percent).
And the Maui News August 28 describes how students were kicked off the testing roster:
The state Department of Education announced Friday that Waihee and Kahului Elementary, along with four other schools statewide, had seen their status upgraded after successfully appealing their earlier results.
Hayashida said staff had reviewed the school's 2010-11 test results and found that two children who had transferred out of Waihee had been counted as current students. Removing their names from the testing roster was enough to boost the school's overall reading proficiency scores to meet federal benchmarks.
"It was a great thing that our staff went through that list with a fine-tooth comb," Hayashida said.
She said she and her staff were still studying the results, but that she didn't plan on making any major changes to how Waihee Elementary prepares students for the test next year.
"We're going to continue on the path we're on," she said. "We know what we're doing works."
An August 26 DoE News Release proudly announces that “cell modifications” produced two more “successful” schools:
Four schools with successful appeals and two schools with cell modifications met Adequate Yearly Progress….
An English Language Learner, or ELL, student source date file correction resulted in AYP status changes from "not met" to "met" for Kahului Elementary and Kealakehe Elementary.
Why would the Hawaii DoE work so hard to adjust the results? Dan Lips of the Heritage Foundation provides some answers:
The centerpiece of the No Child Left Behind Act is a requirement for annual state-level student testing, information reporting to the public, and a series of mandated sanctions for schools that fail to demonstrate adequate yearly progress toward state achievement benchmarks. The purpose of this provision was to shift the focus of federal education policy from inputs to outputs and student achievement….
While the (Federal) Department of Education sets the broad framework of this accountability system, the states maintain control of state-level tests and performance measures. This means that states have the responsibility for defining "proficiency" and setting performance levels on state tests. As a result, some states have lowered standards on state tests to avoid federal sanctions. Ironically, while No Child Left Behind has sought to improve public school accountability and strengthen standards-based reform across the nation, the law's perverse incentives are threatening to eliminate transparency by encouraging all states to lower standards to avoid federal sanctions.
The DoE has a long history of changing tests to create the illusion of achievement, and when test scores still don’t come up, the DoE can make unwanted students disappear.
DoE: Six More Schools Attain Adequate Yearly Progress