Test data must be corrected

By Brenna Swift, The Union Democrat October 31, 2012 08:37 am

Errors in data collection have complicated Summerville Union High School District’s most recent results on progress reports required by the state and federal No Child Left Behind Act.

In Summerville High School’s 2012 “Academic Performance Index” report, released Oct. 11, only four students taking standardized tests were classified as socioeconomically disadvantaged. 

The real number was about 70, according to Superintendent John Keiter. 

Another error makes it appear that fewer students graduated last year after spending all four years at Summerville Union High School District, he said. 

Keiter added that the errors have invalidated the district’s overall score on the state Academic Performance Index report for 2012.

An updated report should be available in January 2013, when the Department of Education will release revised Academic Performance Index scores to reflect any needed corrections. 

For test score reporting purposes, students are classified as “socioeconomically disadvantaged” if they receive free or reduced-price school meals or if neither of their parents have a high school diploma. 

“We think they extracted data from our student information system before we finished loading it,” Keiter said. “We had a deadline and they clipped out the data before it.” 

Summerville Union High School District has also submitted information to correct the errors regarding graduation rates for students who spent all four years in the district.  

The mistakes mean the district’s overall “Academic Performance Index” score will not appear on its 2012 report until late January or early February, according to the California Department of Education. 

Academic Performance Index scores are part of California’s complex system for holding schools accountable to the public, allowing parents to draw comparisons between them. 

This year’s score reports, along with those from previous years, are publicly available on the Department of Education’s website. Each school’s scores range from 200 to 1,000, earned on the basis of STAR standardized tests and a few other factors.

Scores for the individual schools in Summerville Union High School District, including Summerville High and the Connections Visual and Performing Arts Academy, were released Oct. 11.  

As Summerville High School’s report stands, its students scored relatively well for 2012 — earning 799 points compared with the previous year’s 756. The state’s target score is 800. 

Scores for socioeconomically disadvantaged students are missing due to the need for corrected data, and the school’s composite score could change if any corrections are made regarding enrollment. 

The district’s Connections Visual and Performing Arts Academy earned an API score of 910. Keiter said the district’s overall API scores are typically between Summerville High’s and the Connections Academy’s.  

He added that the errors may have also muddled the details of Summerville Union High School District “Adequate Yearly Progress” report, a nationwide benchmark mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. 

The benchmark requires schools to boost student performance on standardized tests every year, a goal widely criticized by educators as unrealistic. It also requires 100 percent of each school’s students to score at the “proficient” level or above on standardized tests by 2013-14. 

Schools must also meet targets for particular groups of students, such as those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. 

Like many other school districts in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties, Summerville Union High School District already failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress for 2012. 

Keiter doesn’t anticipate hearing otherwise when revised reports come out in January, a sentiment that was seconded by the California Department of Education. 

Tina Jung, a spokeswoman for the department, said school district demographic information is corrected in school test reports a daily basis. 

The reports on the department’s website are “living, breathing documents,” she said. 

A further error appeared in the listing of Summerville High student ethnicities, with the California Department of Education website showing that not a single graduating student was black. 

Keiter said Twain Harte-Long Barn Union School District, another district he oversees, once reported each and every one of its students as “Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.” 

Tuolumne County Deputy Superintendent of Schools Margie Bulkin, who helps school districts meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind, said she isn’t aware of other districts awaiting corrected Academic Performance Index reports for this year. 

However, local school districts have noted problems with a new system for collecting and reporting student data. The system doesn’t give users confirmation when corrected data is received, Bulkin said. 

Data about students receiving free and reduced-price school meals is of special importance to schools, since they get additional federal funding if a large number of students fit the category. 

Compiling data requires “huge amounts of energy” and places demands on school district resources, Bulkin said. 

She added that in Summerville High’s case, Keiter “has a legitimate concern that the data yields an inaccurate picture of the school.” 

“They were acting responsibly to report that error quickly,” she said. 

Contact Brenna Swift at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or 588-4529.