Friday, February 17, 2017

How does HCC Program Evaluation Work

A reader submitted this information on the Program Evaluation Process:

"Every year, we submit a report to the state re compliance with the WAC (state laws).  We were found to be in 100% compliance (zero findings) in our State review (CPR) and were given a commendation as well.  If you are interested, here is the language that was submitted. 
11.5.A.2 Evaluation of Ability to Meet Academic Needs
Data is available from climate surveys compiled at each school site.  We believe that this data helps to inform our office of how well we are meeting the academic needs of these HCP students. The data included is from Cascadia Elementary, which currently has an enrollment of over 750 students, the largest Elementary-level HC Cohort in the District.  This data will be analyzed to determine to what extent the students at Cascadia feel that they are content with the decision that they made to join the HCC.
Several questions (on the survey) in particular point to information pertinent to the question of meeting students’ academic needs; first from the students’ then parents’ perspectives:
I am comfortable asking my teacher(s) for help” =7% negative (responses of disagree or strongly disagree) ; 
Students in my classes help each other learn” =11% negative;
“Students in my classes are focused on learning”=18% negative;
“ I can learn the things taught in school”=8% negative;
“I work hard at school “=1% negative;
“ I complete my schoolwork regularly”= 4% negative.
I am good staying focused on my goals” = 9% negative;
“It is important to me that I improve my skills this year” =3% negative.
“Adults at school care about me” =4% negative.
“My child is treated with as much respect as other students” =1% negative.
“There is at least one adult in this school I can talk to if I have a concern” =2% negative
“Adults at school care a lot about my child's academic success and personal well being” =4% negative.
“I feel my child is safe at school”=2% negative.
“Teachers at my school know how to meet the specific learning needs of my child” =8% negative.
“My school partners with families to improve the learning environment at school”= 8% negative.
“The school is responsive to the input and concerns of families”= 9% negative.
Other evidence that the HCP is meeting the academic needs of the HCC students also includes:
A)      The retention rate of  HCC students at Cascadia Elementary School continues to be well over 99%.  It is very very rare to have students, parents or teachers initiate the exit procedure at Cascadia.
B)      Our office has several instructional specialists who have worked closely with staff from several schools that house HCC students.  We have facilitated vertical and horizontal planning and professional development opportunities, especially concerning differentiation of instruction.  Due to this close relationship with the teachers, we have first-hand knowledge of the kinds and extent of acceleration that is occurring in HCC classrooms.  Generally, ELA teachers are accelerating (thus evaluating students) at standards one to two years ahead of their grade, and math teachers are accelerating (thus evaluating students) at standards up to two years ahead of their grade.
The following comes from the CPR (Consolidated Program Review) report that was submitted earlier this year.
C)      HC students, like all students in the District, are expected to make one year’s growth in each academic year.  The difference is, that they are making this growth based on an acceleration of between one and two years above their grade level.  The evidence of this is submitted to OSPI each year using individual students’ redacted progress reports. The progress report for  3rd grade students at Cascadia  show that they are being evaluated at 4thgrade standards in ELA, and at 5th grade standards in math.  As 4thgraders, they will be evaluated at 5th grade standards in ELA, and at 6th grade standards in math.  Throughout this school year, the AL team has discussed the appropriateness of this as an academic goal.  Based on the fact that our District has little to no consistency in the use of achievement tools, the progress report has become the most useful tool in the short term.  
D)      In December, in advance of the CPR submission, we revisited that topic, and came to consensus on how to set and evaluate academic goals.  We were in complete agreement that the progress report was the only tool readily available for this purpose. 
E)       At that time, we also discussed the use of SBAC data as a measure of academic growth.  The CPR submission did contain data from the Cascadia Elementary School Report:
F)       99% of their 3rd, 4th and 5th graders were proficient on the state reading and math tests; 93% of 4th graders were proficient on the state writing test;
G)     100% of 5th graders were proficient on the state science test. 
H)      All of these are much higher than the District averages.
I)        Students at Cascadia ES, (the only magnet school in the District that is comprised solely of HC students), achieved extremely high percentages of proficiency on the ELA and math SBAC. 
J)        About 90% of the students received scores of 4, and of the tested students, the other 10% received scores of 3. 
K)      That far exceeds District averages on SBAC that were generally in the range of about 60% of students that achieved proficiency, meaning that they may have only received a score of 3. 
L)       100% of students at Cascadia met that standard. 
Due to the fact that similar climate data exists at every other SPS site, the HCP has not created a separate survey (especially due to the fact that it would have to be completed by some students but not all students at any given school site). "

In following up I also received this update:

"OSPI changed the guidance on what used to be called the Annual Plan last spring. The plan on file becomes a Comprehensive Plan and is not required to be resubmitted unless substantive changes have been made. So there is no new version of that document. The Consolidated Program Review for 2015-16 is cited. This year OSPI is performing reviews only on departments which had findings last year. Since Advanced Learning was fully compliant, we will not undergo the process this year."

March 1st School Board meeting reapproving the 2015-16 plan.

"This Board Action approves the District’s Highly Capable Students Program Comprehensive Plan, which has not changed from the 2015-16 plan but must be approved every year per WAC 392-170-25. Plan approval is necessary for accessing funds allocated by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for highly capable services."


Anonymous said...

As I shared with the AL office when I received the above evaluation results, these data are pretty disappointing in terms of how well they reflect a true evaluation of HC services.

- There's nothing re: the academic goals for HCC middle schoolers, or data that support the program's effectiveness at this level.
- There's nothing re: whether the academic needs of high school HC students are being met.
- The data are limited to just Cascadia, which, as the only stand-alone HCC school is very unique (e.g., no blended classes, higher teacher/admin commitment to gifted ed, etc.) and likely not representative of all HCC elementary.
- The high retention rate at Cascadia does not necessarily mean the school is meeting kids' needs--it may just be that returning to their home school would be even worse.
- The statement that ELA teachers are accelerating and assessing students based on standards 1-2 years ahead is contradictory to what Kathleen Vasquez specifically indicated during a presentation to the HCC Advisory Committee during the middle school LA/SS alignment work a couple years ago. Is the 2-yrs-ahead statement specific to elementary school only?
- Proficiency on grade level tests seems like a poor indicator of program success. Most of these students would likely exhibit similar levels of proficiency were they in GE classes instead. And since students have to test in the upper few percent to enter the program in the first place, the fact that their average scores are much higher than the district average would seem to reflect who these children are more than the "intervention" to which they were exposed.
- I understand the district has limited resources to put toward program evaluation, but given the lack of an HCC-specific curriculum, the lack of consistency of implementation from school to school, the absence of district-level program oversight, the frequent program splits, the site-based modifications to the delivery model, and now the requirement that all HC-identified students be served at any school, it seems to me that it is especially important to extend future evaluation efforts beyond Cascadia and elementary school. Does the district have any plans to assess the effectiveness of the program beyond Cascadia?

In my comments to the district I forgot to mention the lack of analysis re: HC students not participating in HCC or not attending an HCC pathway high school, too. A meaningful evaluation of HC services needs to address those who opt for the cohort services as well as those who do not.

Overall, the above results might help answer some questions, but they also highlight how little the district knows about the effectiveness of HC services. It's hard to believe they can't do more, even with limited evaluation resources. The district should have the ability to tease out data on HCC students at schools that include non-HCC, and they should also be able to pull data specific to HC-eligible students not participating in HCC. They should also be able to conduct surveys of families of HC students--if not separate surveys, they could at least add a few questions to existing student and parent climate surveys so they could tease out data on HCC and HC-eligible students. Relying so heavily on Cascadia-specific data is clearly insufficient.

Data seeker

Anonymous said...

Putting forth an evaluation of the only self-contained HC site, in the north end no less, only at the elementary level, and then suggesting the entire program is serving students just fine? I'd second the criticisms above. Middle school? High school? What about science and social studies? Why not have AL/HCC specific surveys at each HC site?

Ceiling Hitters said...

Those survey questions could desperately use a couple of questions that probe beyond the 2-years-ahead ceiling. What about a question like "I feel confident that I could handle (much) more challenging coursework than I'm offered." or "I find my schoolwork to be sufficiently challenging." Or even a question like: "the least challenging subject for me this year was (rank the following options)..."

It's weird that absolutely no data from middle or high school is included. And no data from any students other than those in the North End HCC-only elementary school. And that that is considered satisfactory?

Anonymous said...

It is strange that they only evaluate Cascadia and apparently hold it up as the example of success when it's self contained model has been under so much scrutiny by teacher, the district and many on the board. It would seem that if they wanted to promote the TM model, they would survey that school. I guess MS and HS is so bad, they don't even bother to capture feedback?

Is this laziness, lack of resources, or strategic?

Fix AL

Benjamin Leis said...

I added a link above to the current board meeting agenda. The 2015 Plan is contained within it.

Anonymous said...

So bizarre. Which is weirder?

A. That the district, which supposedly knows all about educating students, thought it logical to submit an evaluation:

1. of only elementary school
2. only a self-contained cohort
3. only in the northend
4. using this ridiculous survey made up of questions that are all about comfort and feelings, not actual academic achievement (and how do we know what percentage of families even completed the survey)
5. plus progress reports/tests showing that, guess what, the HCC kids score pretty well against standards for non-HCC kids


B. That the state accepted and passed this C- effort by the district

--So tired