Penn State Research Questions Measure of School Effectiveness

According to new studies by a College of Education professor, current measures of school effectiveness might not be giving evaluators the most complete picture of school quality.

New research by Penn State professor of Education Policy Studies Dr. Edward Fuller has indicated that the common measure of school performance and efficacy, Pennsylvania School Performance Profile (SPP) scores, are not the best way to evaluate schools. In fact, SPP scores are better indicators of the percentage of disadvantaged students attending a school than a school’s effectiveness.

The problem with SPP scores? They could be misleading evaluations of schools. According to Penn State News, Fuller says “SPP scores are so strongly correlated with student characteristics, teachers and principals serving high percentages of economically disadvantaged students will be identified as less effective than they really are,” while conversely, schools serving economically advantaged students are perceived as more effective.

Fuller says that SPP scores should only be comparable with those of other schools with similar student and school characteristics, as other factors could be influencing them. But Penn State will be leading the charge in creating a more useful measure. According to Dr. Fuller, the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy Analysis will create an adjusted measure for school effectiveness that accounts for student and school characteristics. Fuller’s research also includes a number of recommendations to improve Pennsylvania’s evaluation of schools, including adjusting the weight of the components that go into the SPP scores.

“There are a number of options that the Commonwealth could employ to calculate SPP scores that are more accurate measures of school effectiveness. In doing so, the Commonwealth would be assisting educators to improve their practice while providing valid information to the public and policymakers about the effectiveness of their local schools,” Fuller said.

If you’re interested in learning more about Dr. Fuller’s research, you can read additional information here.

Photo: Hailey Rohn/Onward State

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Melissa McCleery

Melissa is a senior majoring in Women’s Studies, Political Science, and Spanish. In the little free time she has, Melissa likes to cook, spend all her money at The Phyrst, and add to her collection of blue and white striped clothing. She can be reached via Twitter (@mkmccleery) or email ([email protected]).


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