Saturday, April 22, 2006

Technical documentation of value added metrics in the UK

Whoa baby! Are those some wacky value-added metrics. The pretests are based on averaging across math, science, and reading. What in the world does that measure? Post tests are based on the highest eight scores on a battery of tests - so, individual post test scores aren't even based on the same tests.

I guess some of the state growth models being suggested in the U.S. don't look that bad.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Long and Short Decisions - We need flexible tools

Engineers without Fears point out an important consideration for those building decision support systems for educational leaders. The large temporal grain size of state data systems lead to the creation of systems to support "long" decisions - those problems that allow time for consultation and consideration. The problem with this notion is that leaders a the district or school level often have to make "short" shoot-from-the-hip decisions and have little structured information to consider when the time to decide arrives. Many leaders will have to rely on the resources provided by the state - even though they were not provided for that purpose and may be unreliable in a "short" context.

The creation of robust use cases that help design "long" decision resources need to be accompanied by cases that show the appropriate use of such data in "short" situations. These cases should also outline how data likely to be available to local decision makers can be combine with state data to make better decisions.


Monday, April 17, 2006

How do modern leaders view social capital?

I like the stuff at Connectedness. Bruce does a good job summarizing Brass and Krackhardt and their description of leadership under strong and weak tie constellations. The simple examples do a good job laying out career-stage and other important considerations. This sort of analysis is vital part of work engagement we do in working with state agency and school district program staff and administrators. Without understanding leaders' network strategies (often unarticulated) it would be difficult to intervene successfully.


Friday, April 14, 2006

National Transcript Center aims to deliver commercial transcript transmission solution

Ok. I guess preventing fraud in transcripts is important. That wouldn't quite be might my first priority. The nirvana I seek is the ability to use transcript data within a district to look at students and their opportunity to learn. It's tough to understand differential outcomes of kids if all you know is their characteristics and maybe the teachers they had. We all know that scope and sequence matters when designing curriculum. It follows that we need to know this stuff to figure out if curricula, PD efforts, new approaches to educational guidance, etc. are working or not. That should be what is driving automation of transcripts.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Teaching leaders to see social capital

As we consider methods for intervening in complex education organizations to improve decision making, I have been looking for resources to provide a wide range of metrics. It's clear that we will be able to improve standard report production efficiency for test data and other high-demand, high-cost products. However, it will be vital to demonstrate the payoffs to units and leaders without direct connections to large scale data warehouse efforts. Social network analysis may provide insights into the structure and effectiveness of data sharing and expertise networks that could radically improve agency performance.


Monday, April 10, 2006

One of the states being considered for permission to use growth models discusses the prospect

The state superintendent's chief of staff downplayed the state's earlier criticism of NCLB. This is the tack that several states have pursued recently. Many people believe the expectations embedded in the legislation is unrealistic and unachievable. The sense seems to be that it will crash on its own illogical requirements. Instead, it makes sense for states to work on more realistic systems to study growth.


Saturday, April 08, 2006

The fundamental problem with "over the bar " NCLB-style reporting from a district teaching resource-poor children

This quote nails one of the primary problems with NCLB reporting. For schools or teachers working with resource-port children, attainment models can be fundamentally disenfranchising.
'I don't fundamentally disagree that we should be held accountable, but you have to look at where the students are when we get them and measure the growth by the time they leave you,' Young said. 'None of the growth that occurred below the bar is counted.'
As much as anything else, it is an issue of respect. People want to have progress acknowledged. A feedback system that says only this single point will be a legitimate reference for success is severely limited.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Examing the role of Open-source at

Open source models is one of the policy issues on our plate as we work with multiple states and districts on decision support tools, data warehouse designs, and statistical models. The costs of proprietary tools and the limits we see in their designs beg the question if open source approaches might improve system performance and approvide more accurate information. This will threaten groups that rely on the proprietary nature of their work as a major component of their business model.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Spellings speaks at educational data summit

While the Secretary of Education seems to be surprised that we make educational decisions based on anecdotal data, she states the problem pretty well. Federal programs that have for years encouraged stove pipe system development and vertical accountability are a primary enabler of this situation. The following quote does, however, indicate how out of step education is with the rest of the working world.

"It's hard to believe that we're just getting started in this endeavor in education. In other fields we expect standards and evaluations as a matter of reaching a diagnosis to correct problems," Spellings said. "Without data and information and sound decision making, it's basically guess work."


Saturday, April 01, 2006

DoEd Growth Models Candidates Announced

Of the 13 states who applied to begin using growth models as a part of their NCLB compliance programs, the following 8 - Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, North Carolina, Oregon, and Tennessee - have been forwarded on to the review committee for consideration. There application materials of these states can be found at the following link.

It will be interesting to see what the press, interest groups, and scholars of growth modeling make of this. Much of the talk among modeling experts is that most of these models don't actually have much to do with growth. The restrictions imposed by the RFP make it more difficult for any state to accomplish much that useful with this effort.