Home > Uncategorized > DCAS scores vanish again

DCAS scores vanish again

September 21, 2012

This Home Access Center page used to display all past DSTP and DCAS scores. I’m sure it’s just a data loading problem, but they need to get a handle on it soon.

Schools are now staking everything on data-driven decision making driven by DCAS scores. Is this what teachers are seeing too on their Teacher Dashboards?

Come on DDOE data gurus, summer’s over. The kids are back in school and are already taking DCAS tests again. At least put out an explanation so parents aren’t left in the dark (or in this case, in the blank).

UPDATE 9/22: From the Data Warehouse RFP for Education Insight:

Current, operational data (for the current school year) will come from the eSchool Master. This database is a nightly consolidation of the data contained in 43 separate eSchool instances used by Delaware’s school districts and charter schools. Current data will appear to dashboard users exactly as it does in eSchool.

Historic data will be populated from the “cleansed” data in the Insight Data Warehouse.


  1. concerned parent
    September 22, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Hi Mike – I can see the scores for this year and last year for my BSD kid? Was it just down yesterday? I know I have looked in the last week or two and saw them again. There is a new “number” in this years report a Lexile score – which we used to get with the MAP tests. I liked the score then as it put your child on a wider range – we could get a sense of true above grade level performance. Teachers had a feel for a Lexile score. It could show where your kid was in the pack. One of our issues with the DCAS is you get a number and an ordinal “4” advanced but it doesn’t say if you kid is in the top 1% or top 35%. Also there is no reference as to how much to expect your kids scores to improve over the year – if they are already “maxing out” the test in September do we expect a 10 point gain by May or a 50 point? Or if the error bars are so big will we see anything of significance?

  2. September 22, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Glad to hear it is working in BSD. It’s not surprising to hear one district is working and others are not.

    The way eSchoolPLUS is set up in Delaware, each district has its own instance of eSchoolPLUS running separately on servers in Dover. There are actually 43 different instances of eSchoolPLUS. Ideally there is some kind of automated process where data is automatically loaded and flows smoothly into the database. But based on my IT experience, it’s often more like a sausage factory. There are inevitable glitches and failures that have to be scrubbed, restored, and fixed manually.And this is not a knock on the technical crew; it’s just the way it goes with complex, slightly-out-of-date systems. On the other hand, the DCAS data rarely changes, so once a bug is worked out it should stay worked out.

    So probably the Red Clay data load for DCAS data failed. The cause could be anything from trivial to serious. If it was trivial you’d think it would be fixed by now.

    Even though the documenation is secret, I am slowly working out a pretty good picture of the data structures and how it is loaded. I suspect the Teacher Dashboards are fine because they get data from the data warehouse layer. Whether the new DCAS scores will load correctly, I don’t know.

    There are pros and cons to having multiple instances of eSchoolPLUS. The main advantage is that when one district goes down, the others stay up, which is compelling. But I suspect the real reason is that the data hierarchy of eSchoolPLUS is organized by schools, and doesn’t provide a higher-level way to separate schools by District. So to keep the Districts separate they need separate databases. I can’t confirm this though, because the eSchoolPLUS data model is proprietary and can’t be requested by FOIA. One more reason to move toward open standards in our technology.

  3. September 22, 2012 at 11:08 am

    @Concerned Parent – I don’t see DCAS data so I can’t comment on the new lexile score. I’m also not really up on DCAS scoring methodology.

    I think the test also gets “harder” from fall to spring (appropriate to the material learned). Just getting a 4 doesn’t tell you if you are maxing out the test or not; within each PL there is a wide range of scoring.

    My son got a 4 in math for years, so I didn’t really pay much attention, then last winter he got a 3. When I looked into it, it turns out that he had always had a low 4, and there was a hair’s breadth of actual score between his low 4 and his high 3. But then last spring he turned in a notably high 4 in math, so I’m now wondering about the consistency of the test (but I’ll take the 4!!). They sure did put a lot of effort into making sure everybody did well last spring, going so far as to give the test twice.

    You can get DCAS scoring data statewide and by school, but it’s a tough dig on the state website. The mailer that they send after each DCAS with your child’s scores also shows more data, including where your child stands in the state and district.

  4. Mike Matthews
    September 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Something is wrong. Ihe Airast/DCAS site is reporting one score. Then, I checked Data Service Center last week and it reported DIFFERENT Fall 2012 scores for my two reading classes. Noticing the difference, I contacted DoE right away. I asked them WHY the CORRECT scores in Airast were feeding INCORRECTLY into Data Service Center. I informed them that Airast is such a PITA system to use with its obnoxious drill-down magnifying glasses that many people rely on the information that has been imported into Data Service to get their DCAS test scores.

    The woman at DoE was flummoxed and told me the person who USUALLY does that import from Airast to DSC was actually OUT SICK last week, so those scores shouldn’t even be reported yet in DSC. So, I asked her, what ARE THE SCORES THAT ARE IN DSC? And, are they FEEDING INTO ANY OTHER SYSTEMS? I haven’t yet heard back. I informed her that many teachers USE THAT DATA TO GUIDE THEIR INSTRUCTION AND READING GROUPS. If teachers are receiving the WRONG DATA in DSC, then this could mean they’re INCORRECTLY grouping their students. I hope to hear back soon.


  5. September 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    @Mike M. – Are you using the new Dashboards yet? Are the scores showing up there?

    This may be part of the problem; it looks like DSC is down a man. Writing tools to import assessment data is part of the job description they are looking for:

    Data Service Center (DSC) is looking for an experienced ASP.NET Web Developer to join our development team. Our core development focus is building high quality, easy-to-use, database-driven web applications for school districts.

    This person will be responsible for:

    Design, develop, deploy, document, and maintain data-driven web applications
    Participate in user group meetings and provide demonstrations of web applications
    Help manage the infrastructure supporting these applications (Windows, SQL, IIS)

    Common Tasks will include:

    Maintaining and enhancing existing ASP.net/VB.net applications
    Deploying updates to production
    Writing tools to import or export student assessment data

  6. John Young
    September 24, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    @MikeM mmmmm, grouping kids by test scores instead of the professional determination of their educators. delicious.


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