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Success Prep considers dropping Achievement Network evaluations

School leaders at Success Preparatory Academy charter school are considering ceasing the use of ANet tests. The Achievement Network organization has provided testing services for students in order to see how they are expected to perform on state standardized tests.

This year, 49 percent of fourth graders at Success Prep scored at or above basic levels in English and 53 percent did the same in math on state tests. That is the same score as last year in English and a 6 percent jump in math scores.

Lower School Principal Niloy Gangopadhyay and Upper School Principal St. Claire Adriaan told board members at their June 7 meeting that the $23,000 price tag for ANet wasn’t worth the return.

School leaders said there was a lack of support from the ANet staff and said that the accuracy of the program’s predicted test scores was off. ANet scores were often lower than what students actually scored on state tests, they said.

Also, the 20 percent increase in price next year was a deterrent.

“I feel like, for how much we spend, I don’t think it’s worth it,” Gangopadhyay said.

According to Gangopadhyay, ANet staffers said the price increase was related to a lack of support on Success Prep’s end with the argument being that teachers and staff were not fully implementing the ANet program in their classes.

Adriaan added that the school had been receiving the program at a discount because he was friends with someone in the organization who gave the school a deal.

“The problem is that last year, the guy in charge was a buddy of mine, so I negotiated $5,000 down. I’m like, ‘You can’t just give us a 20 percent increase [next year]’,” he said.

Gangopadhyay said the ANet test predicted the students would score considerably lower on the state tests than they actually did, and that evaluations of student achievement by Success Prep staffers were much more accurate.

When asked by board members how ANet responded to the difference in its predictions versus actual student scores, Gangopadhyay said, “They didn’t have a response.”

Gangopadhyay and Adriaan made several suggestions about alternative assessment programs next year. One idea was to look into a product called EduSoft, and another was to generate test prep questions and data in-house.

Adriaan said he’d prefer an outside agency that includes the new common core standards for testing that students will face in years to come.

“I have more faith in an outside testing [agency] coming in so there are no grades being given to make us look good, and the whole year, we say we’re at 98 percent or 99 percent because we generate it and teach it, and then iLEAP comes around and we get a 40,” he said.

The school has money allotted for assessment in its proposed $1.9 million budget for next year.

In other financial business, the 2012-2013 budget shows a $10,000 net operating surplus.

The proposed budget includes salary increases for several administrative positions, which has been a point of contention with board members who said they felt the increases were too high. Board members do not expect to hold a meeting in July. The earliest they would then vote on the 2012-2013 budget would be August.

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