RPM's Take on the Data Provisions of Blueprint for Reform

Last Updated: March 26, 2010

This article appeared in the March 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

Although Blueprint doesn’t announce its new data requirements with much fanfare, these requirements seem to be its core. Almost everything else prescribed in Blueprint goes back in some way to student test scores. There will be new rating systems for schools, districts, and states (see Reward and Challenge), and, a new system of rating teacher effectiveness based on the test scores of students (see Teachers).

Blueprint uses the language of student “growth” in reference to test scores rather than specific score targets. It does not define growth expectations. However, in RTT, growth targets are defined as at least one year’s progress on standardized tests.

Blueprint would require states to track student test score data to individual teachers. In addition, states would be required to collect and publish data on college enrollment and college remediation rates of schools and districts. And, states would be required to publish school and district level data on teacher and student attendance, teacher qualifications and “effectiveness,” school disciplinary incidents, teacher reports of support and working conditions, the rates at which teachers of various “effectiveness” levels remain in the school, and rates at which new teacher hires come from “high-performing pathways.” Presumably, NCLB’s data collection and reporting requirements will remain largely in place.

Comment: Our biggest student data concerns relate to student privacy. Revealing the identities of individual students is a significant risk, especially in small rural schools. Furthermore, RTT requires that student data be available for sharing vertically within the preK–16 education system and horizontally with partners in the education process. While Blueprint does not explicitly set forth these sharing requirements, it offers nothing to protect the privacy of student data or govern how, or by whom, school data could be used to make far-reaching decisions about students’ education and lives. Our concerns about rating teachers on the basis of student test scores are addressed in the Teachers section.

Read more from the March 2010 Rural Policy Matters.