Just when you think there are no other ways to pervert the use of high-stakes standardized test scores, school reformers show just how creative they are.
Its not enough, apparently, to judge students, teachers, principals, schools, districts and states, on test scores, not to mention the Education Department’s proposal to evaluate education schools based on the test scores earned by the students of their graduates. (Got that?) Now Louisiana Education Superintendent John White has come up with a novel idea: He wants to link the funding for students labeled “gifted” to how well they do on standardized tests. Really. Money for test scores.
The plan, already approved by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and set to be considered by the Louisiana legislature this spring, is part of an overall $3.5 billion school funding proposal.
One part, according to The Advocate, would apply to gifted and talented high school students by changing how much money the state allocates to each of them. Currently those students qualify for 1.6 times the amount that is allocated for each average student in Louisiana. Under the new plan, that would drop to 1.3 times the amount of state funding that the average student gets — but, individual students can keep their funding at the higher level if, The Advocate said:
Eighth-graders score excellent on their Algebra I end-of-course test.
Ninth-graders score excellent on their geometry end-of-course test or 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement test, which can be used to qualify for college credit.
Tenth-graders score 3 or higher on an AP exam.
Eleventh-graders score 3 or higher on an AP exam or 4 or higher on an International Baccalaureate course.
Not surprisingly, the Baton Rouge Association of Gifted and Talented Students is unhappy with the proposed changes. The Advocate quoted its president, Dannie Garrett III, as saying:
You can get an A in the class, but if you don’t make a 3, you don’t get this extra (money).
You can argue whether gifted and talented students deserve any more money than students who aren’t given that classification. But there is no valid argument in favor of linking test scores to school funding. That, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to bother the reformers in Louisiana.