"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Check out ECSD's Rating on the Annual School Report Cards

Click on the link below to see how Evansville performed on the second year of the Annual School Report Cards. I'll attempt to summarize here for your convenience, but if you're anything like me, you have to look at the data yourself.

Wisconsin school report cards assign a score for each public school and district in the state based on certain accountability parameters that are pertinent to that school. It is a composite of a number of measurements that have been found to have positive correlation with success in school, such as attendance and closing achievement gaps between the majority and the at-risk groups such as students living in poverty and students with disabilities.  Four broad measurements are given equal weight in the score a school earns. They are (1)Student Achievement (in Math and Reading), (2)Student Growth (in Math and Reading), (3)Closing Gaps (in Reading, Math and Graduation Rates) and On Track for Postsecondary Readiness. The "grading scale" is as follows:

  • 83-100: Significantly Exceeds Expectations
  • 73-82.9: Exceeds Expectations
  • 63-72.9: Meets Expectations
  • 53-62.9: Meets Few Expectations
  • 0-52.9: Fails to Meet Expectations

First, let's discuss the wording on this grading scale. I don't argue with the first three, as they are how I view the usual "A, B and C" grades. The last category doesn't mince any words either. You have failed, no bones about it. That "D" category is the one that amuses me. "Meets Few Expectations" ought to say "Fails Most Expectations."

So, you probably want to know how Evansville fared this year, as did I. I was most curious as to how they stacked up against last year as well. First, let's take the long view by District. Last year they only prepared School report cards and so this is the first year the district as a whole has gotten a "grade." They scored 74.2 to come in at a low "B." Something I didn't realize last year when they issued the first report cards was that the Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) for math and reading do not factor into the school or district rating. At all. This begs the question, why have AMOs at all?

The schedule of expected improvement in AMOs was published last year and acknowledges that the at-risk groups begin at a lower level of achievement and schools/districts must illustrate greater improvements each year with these groups in order to meet the final level of achievement that will put them on track with their majority peers. However, if there is no consequence for failing to meet an AMO, why should districts bother to worry about it? Sure, it's cumulative and without meeting AMOs every year, the chances of scores down the road being anything but abysmal is small. But for goodness sakes, take a point off for every "no does not meet the AMO" and a half-point off for "no does not meet the AMO but is statistically indistinguishable from a number that does and is within the confidence interval." You can drive a truck through those 95% confidence intervals with such small sample sizes like our district offers, especially with the subgroup populations. So, I'm going to tell you how the district fared with AMOs and then how each school stacked up as well. I think parents deserve to know this stuff.

Reading: Overall, there are seven reading measurements for the district. I'll let you go see how close the groups were to meeting AMOs. Two groups met the overall district AMO outright: All Students and Economically Disadvantaged Students. Only one group, Students with Disabilities, did not meet the AMO outright. The four remaining groups did not meet the minimum cutoff to meet the AMO but because of statistical limitations, the value is considered to meet the AMO through the wide confidence interval. Those groups were Black Not Hispanic, Hispanic, White Not Hispanic and Limited English Proficient. 

Math: There are also seven math district-wide measurements for the district. Two groups also met their AMOs outright for math this year: All Students and Black Not Hispanic. Three groups failed to meet their AMOs outright: Hispanic, Students with Disabilities and Limited English Proficient. The last two groups, White Not Hispanic and Economically Disadvantaged fell into that Confidence Interval Limbo.

Out of fourteen district wide groups for which there are enough students to make statistically valid statements about whether or not they met the state AMOs, our district outright failed four groups (28.6% of the groups), helped four groups meet their objectives and may or may not be helping the other six groups. When the district can demonstrate that they have definitively met AMOs for only 28.6% of the groups for whom sufficient numbers exist to make the measurements, this is a problem. When the same district has demonstrated that they have failed an equal number of those groups, that is also a concern. The only thing that can be said about this data is that it is normally distributed. But Shhh. Don't say bell curve. Educators hate it when you point out obvious things like "100% of a population of humans cannot become proficient and advanced at anything except maybe breathing."

Stay tuned for a summary of each school in the same fashion. Some day I will discover how to load charts and stuff from the internet into my blog so you can see what I'm seeing as I write my analysis. So much easier to see the chart if you want to really understand something.

Then I might begin to summarize the data for the groups of districts that convened last night for a panel discussion on 4K. I plan to write more about that meeting in another post. There's all kinds of fun to look forward to!

A board member who shall remain nameless recently said about me after I buried them with a flurry of emails about a plethora of educational issues both personal and generic, "What's with all this crap from Melissa? Doesn't she have anything else to do?" I guess my concern about the quality of education for the children of Evansville should be replaced by raising money for the press box. Or officiating a football game. Or raising taxes in Evansville. All much higher moral paths than the one I'm on! When I advocate for my kids, I advocate for all the kids in Evansville. When I tell them that scheduling two gym classes a year violates state statutes, this is important to the continued standing of the district, not just my kid's potentially invalid diploma had we not changed her schedule. We all have our strengths. Mine are data plumbing and analysis and tracking details and historical context of the district. I am able to take an eagle eye view without the blinders of special interest groups. The data speak volumes if you're willing to listen with an open mind.


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