The DeHavilland Blog

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What happens...

What happens when you tell everyone who lives within a school district exactly how their local elementary and middle schools are doing?

We’re about to find out.

I’ve mentioned the Education Consumers Foundation’s work in Tennessee before; the organization is trying to increase awareness, understanding, and use of the value-added data generated by the state’s Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS).

For the past two years, the Foundation has taken the value-added performance scores of every elementary and middle school in the state, ranked them, and provided this data to the public through its website (see here). ECF also launched the Value-Added Achievement Awards to recognize and reward principals of some of the highest-achieving schools in the state.

Now that these applications of the data are in place, our focus is turning to awareness. People who already understand value-added data understand the importance of the charts and awards; the challenge is that not enough people in Tennessee are familiar with TVAAS.

So we’ve selected a single county – Sumner County, just north of Nashville – to conduct a mailing to every single household (55,300 sites) with detailed information on value-added performance, achievement on state tests, and free/reduced lunch rates (a common proxy for poverty) for every elementary and middle school in the county.

The mailing was sent last Monday, and should hit en masse this week – it will be fascinating to see what impact it has on local discussions regarding school performance.

BTW, to see the letter that was sent out, click here, and to see the brochure with detailed information on Sumner schools, click here. (Note that both are PDF files.)

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