A recent letter to the editor commented on the reporting of student test scores by the school district. The author, a Harvard-trained researcher and statistician, encouraged the school board and administration to "use the most rigorous scientific methods to execute reports that accurately portray progress." I consider it unwise to engage a statistician in a debate regarding statistical significance, but there are vital components of this conversation that must be included for public consideration. The school district does not calculate or produce achievement data regarding student performance on statewide assessments. Student achievement data are calculated uniformly by contracted testing companies for every school district in the state to ensure consistency and validity in reporting. Beaufort County School District chooses to report student scores as they are given to us by these state-contracted companies so that they provide a very simple, consistent and objective picture for our school community to consider our students' performance with students across the state. In simple terms, we want our school community to have an "apples to apples" perspective. Respecting the framework of empirical research, I believe the writer's suggested methodology is better suited for program evaluation, and we are currently using the scientific measures he described to review student achievement associated with four major programs in our district. For communication to be effective, it must be clear and consistent. I believe our current method of reporting student performance on state assessments meets those two benchmarks. A. Sean Alford Chief instructional services officer
Beaufort County School District
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