# Algebra 1 EOC: Ridiculously High Stakes

5/22/2016, ACCOUNTABALONEY UPDATE:

At the 2016 Spring FOIL Conference (Florida Organization of Instructional Leaders), The FLDOE gave a presentation on the details contained in HB 7029:School Choice, one of the two long “train bills” from the 2016 session. To give you an idea of the bill’s complexity, the FLDOE summary presented was 135 pages long! It included this good news:

Section 27. Amends s. 1011.61, F.S…to “Delete the provisions requiring an FTE adjustment when a student does not pass an end-of-course exam required to earn a high school diploma. The FTE adjustment was scheduled to begin in the 2016-17 school year.”

In other words, the Algebra 1 Performance Based Funding, discussed in this blog, has been repealed. The other high stakes attached to the Algebra 1 EOC remain in place.

Occasionally, reformers will dismiss concerns regarding the high stakes attached to standardized testing in our schools by comparing these state mandated tests to the test you must pass to get your driver’s license. For example, in 2015, current Senate President, Andy Gardiner told an Orange County Legislative Delegation (read about it here): “My driver’s test was high-stakes, because I didn’t want my parents driving me around anymore.” Yes, being driven around by your parents is terrible…

The stakes attached to the Algebra 1 EOC recently got quite a bit higher, so we decided this was a good time to compare the consequences of the current state mandated Algebra 1 End of Course exam (EOC), which we will argue has the highest stakes of all of Florida’s state mandated assessments, with having your parents drive you around when you are 16.

The current Algebra 1 EOC was created by AIR, the same company that created the Florida Standards Assessment or FSA and first administered in 2015. Cut scores for the 2015 administration were finally set in January 2016, resulting in an overall FAILURE RATE of 44% (with some schools and districts having worse performance than others).

Passing the Algebra 1 EOC is a high school graduation requirement. Students who fail th**e** 3 hour, computer based assessment must either retake and pass the exam or earn a concordant score on the PERT exam.

A student’s score on the Algebra 1 EOC, like all of Florida’s EOCs, is worth 30% of the students grade. Some Magnet Schools require the completion of Algebra 1 before a student can gain admission to their programs. Students failing Algebra 1 will be ineligible for admission to these highly sought after programs.

Student scores on the Algebra 1 EOC are used to calculate their teacher’s VAM score, which affects their teacher’s effectiveness rating and merit pay. Teachers receiving multiple ineffective ratings may lose their jobs.

Student scores on the Algebra 1 EOC are a major component of the Middle School A-F School Grade calculation, making up at least 11% of the possible points. Middle schools are rated on the percentage of eligible students who pass a high school EOC (most often Algebra 1, though occasionally students will be offered other courses with EOCs) or earn an industry certification.

The number of eligible students is determined by the number of students in the class AND all 8th graders who scored a 3 or higher on EITHER Reading or Math in their 7th grade state assessment. To be clear, the number of students deemed eligible to take a high school level Algebra 1 course in 8th grade is NOT determined by their performance on any Algebra readiness standards but on their previous year’s FSA Math and Reading scores.

Performance on all of the State mandated Math EOCs, including the Algebra 1 EOC, along with calculated learning gains, also represent 30% of the calculation of High School A-F grades.

Schools achieving high letter grades receive extra funding while school’s receiving failing grades can be threatened with take-over or closure.

Performance on the Algebra 1 EOC is *also* calculated into the School District’s overall grade calculation.

As if the stakes described above weren’t high enough, there is now a thing called “Algebra 1 Performance Based Funding”, described in this slide from the DOE:

So, yes, you read that right. Beginning in 2016-17, if a student takes an Algebra 1 class and then, at year’s end, fails the mandated EOC, that student’s school must return 1/6 (representing the cost of one out of 6 classes) of the FTE money (this is the money the school receives to educate each student) back to the state. The money (amounting to over $1000 *per* student who fails the EOC) must be returned *after* a student has been taught by a teacher, in a classroom, for an entire school year… Schools in low income areas, with lower passing rates, will be hit particularly hard.

Apparently, schools will not be penalized if the student “subsequently enrolls in a segmented remedial course delivered online.” I called my daughter’s middle school and, at this point in time, they have been given no direction from the DOE as to what a “segmented remedial course” looks like, but they are scrambling to assure it will be available to their students by the end of next school year.

So, yes, the stakes attached to the Algebra 1 EOC (high school graduation, 30% of course grade, Magnet School eligibility, teacher’s evaluation and job security, school and district grades and school funding) are ridiculously high and, I think we can all agree, are significantly worse than being dropped off at a high school dance by your parents.

The high stakes attached to the Algebra 1 EOC (and the rest of Florida’s state mandated assessments) are real, they lack common sense and, unless they are addressed, Florida will never have a valid accountability system.

In the meantime, all comparisons to getting your driver’s license are baloney.

Addendum: All images are from a FLDOE presentation entitled “School Accountability and State Assessments” at the Fall 2105 FOIL conference and can be found, along with lots of other great information, in their archived materials.

Is this an attempt to have predictable percentages for budget cuts? After all, most of these tests don’t have “cut scores” set until after the test is completed because they already have decided what percentage must fail……

It is either that or a way to ensure plenty of kids to take the required online remediation. Online remediation programs guarantee a steady stream of data collection and, currently, education data streams are like gold mines. The new rule will be devastating for less advantaged schools with higher than average failure rates. And, yes, since the cut scores are set by a political process, rather than anything educationally sound, this does seem to be a way to financially punish low performing schools.

[…] sequence and the associated EOCs. We have written several blogs expressing some of our concerns (Algebra 1, Math Problems, Algebra 2). We even travelled to Tallahassee for a face to face meeting with the […]

[…] middle and high school students have been administered Algebra 1 End of Course (EOC) exams. We have argued that the Algebra 1 EOC has the highest stakes of all: not only does it count as 30% of a […]