February 17, 2021
Why we stopped providing our state test data module
Schoork is no longer providing the state and benchmark test data module to schools and districts. There are three main reasons for this change.
When I started Schoork there was one major player in the state test data game and none in the benchmark assessment game. There were plenty of companies that provided benchmark assessments and gave students a projected score. This gave schools the opportunity to calculate a projected score for each benchmark, but most had to do it by hand. One large district near Jackson had three people working full-time for a week to produce projected scores and reports for schools. That's 120+ people-hours! With Schoork, I developed a way to do this in minutes.
But now there are more players in the game, the reports from the benchmark companies are getting better, and the pandemic has put a freeze on districts' need for strong reporting in this area. This competition means that we would have to invest a lot of time, energy, and money into producing better reports than the competition, if we even could.
These margins are made even tighter by ever-changing data. Schoork's method relies on a computer (or server) calculating growth for students. This can be done pretty easily when reporting and formulas stay the same, but when they change our margin evaporates. In the past few years, the state of Mississippi has changed the science performance levels, added an EL component, and changed the cut scores almost every year. It is also nearing the end of a five-year cycle in which they may significantly change the way growth or a school's overall score is calculated.
I built Schoork as a way to digitize the work that teachers, administrators, and support personnel are doing in a school in order to increase efficiency, giving people back their time so they could do what matters most. As an assistant principal I spent a lot of time calculating students' growth and compiling reports to show us a snapshot of our school.
But in the last few years, especially as a principal of an elementary school, I realized that I didn't think test data should be what school was all about. Without going into too much self-righteousness, I'd say that test data and scoring schools, districts, teachers, and students, is not what I want Schoork to be about.