Federal and state officials have imposed accountability systems on school districts in the U.S. aimed at closing achievement gaps and ensuring all students have access to quality education. The problem is socioeconomic conditions heavily influence achievement scores like the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) results used in Connecticut’s accountability plan. State officials are required to sort and classify districts by their achievement scores rather than evaluate how students are learning and growing. The public perception is school districts in wealthier communities are successful and the most socioeconomically challenged communities are failing. Consequently, the divide between wealthier and poorer districts gets reinforced. Emerging research encourages using growth models in place of achievement scores as they have proven to be less associated with disparate socioeconomic conditions (SEC). This study investigated the difference in the relationship between SEC in Connecticut public school districts and student achievement versus student growth on SBA for an identified cohort of students. The results of the quantitative analysis revealed vertical growth on the SBA has little correlation with district SEC (r = -.231 for ELA and -.432 for math) compared with the strong correlation found for average test scores (r = -.811 for ELA and -.796 for math). District SEC explain only 4-17% of the variance in vertical gain scores, leaving 83-96% of the variance potentially linked to district quality. This finding is very important because it provides a measure of student learning that minimizes the influence of SEC and therefore may represent a more accurate proxy for district quality. The author suggests policymakers and researchers alike, after learning of the findings, may be compelled to adjust policies and practices that could ultimately reshape and the narrative around “good” and “failing” school districts in Connecticut.
|Commitee:||Henning, Gavin, Lemons, Richard|
|School:||New England College|
|Department:||Doctorate of Education|
|School Location:||United States -- New Hampshire|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Connecticut, Smarter balanced assessment, Socioeconomic conditions, Vertical growth|
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