Thursday, May 28, 2009

Transition index details

Last month, I posted the press release announcing a transition index project that will be shared by the Council for Better Education, the Kentucky Association of School Councils, and the Prichard Committee. I'm pleased to be part of the hands-on work of that project, and we're now ready to share some detail on how we'll calculate and share the index numbers.

Student scores
For 2009, 2010, and 2011 students will continue to be tested in reading, mathematics, science, social studies and on-demand writing. Their work will be identified as novice, apprentice, proficient, or distinguished, and novice and apprentice will each have three different sublevels. That part will be like the 2007 and 2008 assessments.

However, the Department of Education will not combine those scores into index results that sum up a school's performance in each subject and then combine the subjects in a single number that summarizes the school's overall progress.

That's where the transition index work will come in, giving schools, parents, and the public those snapshots of our movement toward proficiency for all students.

School subject scores
To produce an index for each subject, we will use the formula KDE used in years past. That formula produces numbers on a 0-140 scale, based on giving full credit for proficient performance, extra credit for distinguished work, and partial credit for novice and apprentice work. For number lovers, I'll list the weights at the bottom of this post.

Transition index results
The old Academic Index formula will be adjusted so that results are still on a 0-140 scale even though three past tests are no longer used. The elementary school formula gives reading and math the most weight, while the high school version treats those two as equal to science and social studies. Again, the specifics are at the end.

Year-to-year comparisons and 2014 projections
We'll calculate the transition index results for 2007 and 2008 as well as 2009, to allow sound comparisons over time.

To give a sense of who is on track for overall proficiency, we'll look at how much each school's transition index has changed since 2007, and estimate the school's 2014 index if that rate of growth continued for five more years.

Disaggregated results
For separate groups of students, KDE does not publish results for the three different novice levels and the three apprentice levels. We'll do the subject index calculations treating all novices as medium novices and all apprentices as medium apprentices, and then do a transition index using the same formula as for all students.

District results
We'll use the same formulas and share the same projections for each school district, with separate numbers for the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

The reports
From KASC's website, you'll be able to download lists showing all schools, with their 2007 through 2009 results and their 2014 projections, plus separate files showing the disaggregated information. We'll handle district data the same way, and add a summary report describing statewide trends. Once KDE lifts the embargo, we'll complete our work as quickly as possible, and we expect to share everything within two weeks.

Please feel free to use the comments section below if you want more details, or e-mail or call KASC at (859) 238-2188.

Those details I promised above
To calculate an index for a single subject, we'll take the percent of students performing at each level, multiply it by the matching weight below, and add up the results:

To combine all the subjects in an overall index, we'll multiply the index for each subject by a weight and add up those results. Those weights, rounded to three decimal places, will be:

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