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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Did the NAEP call BS on superintendent Vitti?

Once again I will just let his words speak for him.

About what the NAEP, called the nation’s report card, scores mean for Duval, from the Times Union

With this first report, Duval’s scores are too young to show a trend over time, but they do place the district near the top of all 21 major districts measured in NAEP, said Duval Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.
And Duval ranks second, behind Miami-Dade, in eighth grade reading and seventh in eighth grade math. Duval’s eighth-graders scored above national averages in reading but below average in math.
Vitti said that shows Duval is better than state report cards reveal — better than many people think when they compare Duval to St. Johns or other area districts. “It should change the conversation in Jacksonville regarding the state of public education,” he said.
“We will naturally always be compared to our neighboring districts but ... the neighboring districts are nowhere near a comparable sample regarding our performance. We are much larger and more diverse. Compared to similar districts, we are outperforming.”
So the NAEP is better suited than the state assessments to determine where Duval is. Who wants to bet that if the results would have been less favorable Vitti would have said, the NAEP just tests a small sample not all our kids and shouldn’t be taken seriously.
Now he is right, it is unfair to compare Duval to districts like Clay and St. Johns. Those counties are not nearly as diverse as Duval both with race and socio-economic status. The thing is there aren’t many serious people comparing us to those two counties and when he attempts to do so or implies others are he muddies the waters.
It’s the big counties of Palm Beach, Miami Dade, Hillsborough, Orange and Broward that we should be compared to and sadly we are routinely near the bottom and the NEAP does not change that fact.
Here is Vitti on why Florida and Duval’s math NAAP scores are low, also from the Times Union.
 Except in eighth grade math. Duval like other big Florida districts fell below national averages.
Vitti attributed that to the fact that many of Florida’s eighth graders take algebra 1 in eighth grade and the most advanced students take geometry, but the NAEP tests measure regular eighth-grade math, which he described as “pre-algebra.”
National assessment officials said Tuesday that the eighth-grade test does include algebra and geometry, as well as data analysis, measurement and number properties
Um, did the NAEP just call bullshit on the superintendent there? I am not a fan of most eight graders taking algebra but I guess earnest people can disagree.
Now please don’t confuse my criticism with an indictment of the districts teaching. It’s not. I think we are having success across the district but I think the lion’s share of this happens in spite of the administration who often pulls teachers in superfluous directions and sets teachers and students up to fail. I also sadly think the district has kneecapped us with a reliance on Teach for America and by driving many experienced teachers away.  
As for the NAEP, the problem is if you like it you can find things to praise and if you dislike it you can find things to criticize. It’s also just a sample of a population and even they say it shouldn’t be used to craft policy. 

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