Monday, February 28, 2011

Statewide Analysis of Student Achievement Online

For the first time, a measure of student growth in all schools and districts in the state is available online through the Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment Program, or PVAAS. Achievement tests in Pennsylvania, known as PSSAs, tell where students are. PVAAS analyzes and compares those tests for growth and progress to show what direction students are going.

Carey Harris, Executive Director of Pittsburgh’s A Plus Schools, says PVAAS helps a school look at teaching and learning within a building. Data can be broken down by race, gender, class, achievement level, etc., enabling targeted interventions. Kristen Lewald, PVAAS program project director for the Department of Education, says using achievement and progress data together tells educators where their allocation of resources is working and where a shift may be necessary.

Data might show that a low-performing school had significant growth over the year, or vice versa, according to Harris, who adds that this kind of data will probably be used more and more in the future to evaluate teacher effectiveness and to determine whether schools have reached No Child Left Behind goals.

Pittsburgh Public Schools have made PVAAS data available for the last three years, says Harris.

Achievement tests, PSSAs.
Progress data, PVAAS.

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