The DJUSD School Board tonight will see two presentations on the AIM Program, apparently at the request of board members who have provided two professors from UC Davis to present their findings regarding AIM assessment and identification data at the Board of Education meeting. This information was presented to the Superintendent’s AIM Advisory Committee in December 2014.
According to the staff report, “While the source of the data in the presentations is derived from DJUSD the analysis and conclusions were reached by Dr. Jelinek and Dr. White.”
At present time, limited information is available as there is no posted report, only two PowerPoint presentations.
Tobin White, an Associate Professor at the UC Davis School of Education, will discuss his assessment of current testing practices at DJUSD. Currently they use two exams, the OLSAT (Otis-Lennon School Ability Test) and the TONI (Test of Nonverbal Intelligence) to identify students eligible for the AIM program.
According to Professor White, the OLSAT identifies about 24% of the AIM students, the TONI 49% of AIM students and 27% are identified through some other test.
The TONI is by design more inclusive, as it is used to retest students who come within five points of qualifying for enrollment on the OLSAT test. Therefore it is not completely surprising that students administered the TONI were “6 times more likely to qualify than those taking only the OLSAT.” They were also nine times more likely, according to Professor White to score in the 99th percentile.
He writes, “These are radically different measures, yet they are being treated as equivalent in program placement decisions.”
He adds, citing research, “The TONI was not designed to replace broad-based intelligence tests but rather to provide an alternative method of assessment when a subject’s cognitive, language, or motor impairments rendered traditional tests of intelligence inappropriate and ineffectual.”
The TONI was designed specifically for populations of deaf and hearing impaired, those with aphasia, dyslexia and other disorders related to spoken and written language, and those not proficient with written and spoken English.
The TONI is also the more ethnically diverse testing protocol. Currently the District’s AIM program is 60% White, 19% Hispanic, 16% Asian, and 3% Black. The OLSAT generates 48% White qualifiers, 44% Asian, 6% Latino and 1% Black. The TONI is more ethnically diverse with 43% white, 31% Latino, 12% Asian, and 8% Black.
Professor White concludes that “the current rescreening process is fundamentally flawed.” The “TONI and OLSAT have dramatically different psychometric properties, one score should not simply replace the other.”
He noted, “The TONI is designed to address only a limited range of the search and serve criteria, yet is being applied for all of them.”
He concludes, “The TONI is clearly identifying a more diverse group of students than the OLSAT, but as a function of student selection rather than test bias.”
Professor David Jelinek, the Associate Director of Teacher Education at UC Davis, will present a more historical perspective on the GATE Evaluation in the DJUSD.
In addition to the historical perspective, he offers several questions for today. These include:
- How are students identified to take the TONI? Why a second administration?
- Why do so many students from this group score in the upper percentiles?
- How is the test administered?
- Is the TONI the appropriate test?
- Does the TONI help identify a more diverse group of students?
He also makes several recommendation including:
- Use of multiple criteria but converted to common/weighted scale
- Reasonable cutoffs to assure those identified will benefit
- Identify students with unidentified potential.
—David M. Greenwald reporting