(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Yesterday I did a quick face validity test on Arizona’s new school grades by comparing the schools closest to where I live. That didn’t go terrible well for the grading system. This morning before my bike ride I decided to do a second two minute test: comparing the district high school in the neighborhood I used to live (Shadow Mountain High School in the Paradise Valley district) to the one I live near today (Arcadia High School in Scottsdale Unified).
If someone would like to justify the red columns getting a “B” while the blue columns get a “C” the comment section awaits. If you are running Arcadia High, this is going to look to you like Shadow Mountain had a larger swoon on ELA than you from 2016 to 2017, had less math improvement than you (you had a smidge and they were flat). Moreover you outscored them in both math and reading in 2017, but they got a “B” and you got a “C.” Good luck getting the Arcadia High folks on board with this.
Greatschools btw gives both Arcadia and Shadow Mountain a 6 out of 10 for their academics. In other words, Greatschools gives them both the equivalent of a D. With proficiency rates in the twenties for Shadow Mountain and the thirties for Arcadia, it is hard to argue with that assessment. If there is a D-plus to be had here, clearly Arcadia is the school more deserving of it. The state could really, really use higher levels of achievement at both of these schools btw.
The subject at hand however is the grading formula used to create these preliminary grades. It certainly seems to lack face validity to me, but the Greatschools ratings seem to be defensible and thus useful to parents.