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ERIC Number: ED476866
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 27
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
School Awards Programs and Accountability in Massachusetts: Misusing MCAS Scores To Assess School Quality.
Wheelock, Anne
Scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests are used to select exemplary schools in Massachusetts, and the schools thus identified can receive awards from three different programs. This study examined the evidence about the use of MCAS scores to assess school quality. These three programs use MCAS to identify exemplary or most-improved schools: (1) the Edgerly School Leadership Awards program, a privately funded program that gives 5 to 10 principals $10,000 to be used in the exemplary schools; (2) the MassInsight Corporation program, a business-based program that grants awards to 12 schools on the basis of score gains and descriptions of curricula; and (3) the performance ratings of the state Department of Education, which are used to select "Compass" schools for monetary rewards. All three programs portray MCAS score gains as a fair and accurate means of assessing school quality, but evidence from recent years shows that even schools receiving awards do not show steady improvement over 4 years of testing. Labeling schools as "good" or "bad" on the basis of test scores can be especially misleading when the schools are testing a small number of students. Among other problems, evidence shows that test scores can improve if lower achieving students drop out. Massachusetts accountability and school recognition policies fail to identify in a holistic or authentic way the schools that are "more exemplary" than others, and the use of such scores to recognize schools promotes an inadequate definition of school improvement. An appendix presents data from the Compass Schools for 2002. (Contains 121 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System