On Friday, the coalition seeking the release of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers testing data sent the Louisiana Department of Education a letter offering an alternative to the information it requested last week and reiterating a request for the conversion tables being used to tabulate the scaled scores for the test.
The 32-person coalition including educators, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members and legislators filed a formal public records request on Oct. 1 with the DOE asking for raw testing data and a scale to convert the information to a score. The department issued a response on Monday.
The public records information request was drafted by attorney J. Arthur Smith III. He also drafted the coalition’s response sent to the DOE on Friday.
Originally, the group asked the DOE to provide:
“1. For each math and English language arts test, sometimes referred to as PARCC tests for grades 3-8 given in the Spring 2015, please identify the Common Core standard being tested by each question, the raw point value of each question, and give the number and percentage of students on a statewide basis answering each such question correctly or partially correct.
The DOE response, drafted by Joan Hunt, said the department does not possess the analysis requested in Part 1, noting that each question does not measure one standard but requires students to “demonstrate multiple skills” with one question.
In the group’s response, Smith said:
“We understand that each test question may be testing more than one Common Core standard in some combination and that it may not be possible to equate each test question to one individual standard. As an alternative, and for the purpose of providing maximum information to the Curriculum Standards Review Committee and to our requesters, we are requesting that the number and percentage of correct answers or partially correct answers for each question be provided along with a list of the standards that question was testing.
“If that is not possible or too time consuming to produce, it would be sufficient for our purposes to simply receive an exact copy of each question on each test with the number and percentage of students who answered each such question correctly or partially correct.”
The original records request called for “”a conversion table for each test listed above that converts raw scores or percentage of correct answers to scale scores.”
Regarding the second portion of the request for a conversion chart, the DOE response said the department does not yet have a final version of the scale but will provide it when it’s ready.
The group’s response notes that the department is expected to release a summary of scaled scores for the PARCC tests on Monday.
“We are therefore requesting an immediate transmittal to this email address of any and all conversion tables being used in the calculation of these scale scores,” the letter states. “The law stipulates that anything ‘having been used, being in use or prepared’ for use in the conduct of public business is a public record. if the conversion table has been used to calculate even one scale score then it is in use and must be produced immediately.”
Mike Deshotels, a retired educator who is among the group requesting the data, said, “These conversion tables are vital to educators in determining exactly how the students are rated and how many correct answers it takes for students to receive different ratings.”
The public records request additionally called for the DOE to provide parents “with the raw score performance of each of their children participating. In addition, please provide each requesting parent with a list of Common Core standards related to any questions their students did not answer successfully. Parents should have the option of sharing this information with the child’s current teacher.”
The DOE response states:
“In order to access and provide a student’s specific scores, the department requires stringent evidence that the requester is in fact the parent of the child, in order to protect personally identifiable information. Please have a parent of each child provide a signed request including the student’s full name, date of birth, the name of the public school in which he or she was enrolled for the spring 2015 assessments, and his or her grade level in 2014-15. Given the sensitive nature of personally identifiable information, in order to confirm the requester is the parent, please have the parent either submit a notarized request with a photocopy of a valid ID and or hand deliver it to the department with a valid ID. Once the department has this information, along with the appropriate validation that the requester is in fact the parent, the department will release the raw scores directly to the parent.
“Because local school districts have this information already on file for parents, it may be more expedient for parents to seek such information through their local school or school system.”
The coaliton’s letter said they have informed the parents in the group that “raw scores will be available to them in accordance with the procedure you have established for identity verification. We reserve the right to request further information on actual questions or standards the students may have missed on each test.”
Louisiana Department of Education spokesman Barry Landry said, “The department has received the response and is reviewing it. We will respond accordingly and provide any appropriate records in our possession.”