Accreditation Theater of the Absurd

The Board of Education has deliberately created a problem it does not know how to solve.  But that “problem” will keep it and its minions busy.  Indeed, the sterile, ballooning bureaucratic exercise might even justify a budget increase.

Some background:

The Board has an elaborate and opaque system for “accrediting” Virginia schools and school divisions. 

The schools that fail to meet the Board’s standards can be “reconstituted” or just denied accreditation.  Schools being reconstituted operate under improvement plans approved by the Board.  Schools denied accreditation operate under corrective action plans and MOUs (Memoranda of Understanding, which is bureaucratese for unenforceable agreements) with the Board.

The plans and MOUs generated by this process have provided busywork for bureaucrats but have been ineffective to fix bad schools. 

Petersburg, for example, has been operating under MOUs since at least 2004 (video of 9/21/16 at 1:48:30) .  Here, as a paradigm of the Board’s ineptitude, is the history of Petersburg’s Peabody Middle School:



Over a decade of state supervision has left Peabody and, indeed, the Petersburg division languishing in failure.


(This failure is the ugly cousin of the Board’s money and effort squandered on “priority” schools.)

The Board’s record of failure tells us that its remedies for broken schools are ineffectual.  But we don’t have to rely on inference:  In September of this year, the Board members generally admitted (video of 9/21/16 at 1:48:30 et seq.) that they do not know how to fix the awful schools in Petersburg and elsewhere.

A few years ago, not content with being unable to cure the failing schools it already had, the Board set out to generate some more failure.  Sure enough, the new, tougher, math tests in 2012 and new English and Science tests in 2013 clobbered the pass rates statewide.


And in Richmond.


The three year rolling average “adjustment” to the accreditation ratings slowed the effect of these score drops but the accreditation rates soon followed the scores.


All of this generated an Everest of paperwork for the Department of Education and for the affected schools and divisions.  Unfortunately, there’s no sign that all this newly concocted activity accomplished anything useful.

Indeed, the bad schools already were scoring poorly on the SOLs.  For example:


Note: Grades 6-8, but not EOC, pass rates.

It didn’t take new tests to ferret those schools out.

When we look at outside evaluations of Virginia’s schools we do not see the ups and (mostly) downs so evident in the SOLs and accreditations.  Here, for example are the NAEP 4th grade reading and math scores for Virginia, by year.



And here are the 8th grade data.



These scores tell us that Virginia schools, on average, have held steady or improved slightly over the years.

The SAT scores paint much the same picture.



Yet the Board of Education would have us think that Richmond’s performance fell by nearly 70% and Petersburg’s sank yet lower by 15% since 2010 and that the “remedy” for this artificial problem is for these divisions to submit plans and reports to the Board of Education that does not know how to improve their performance.

There is a conclusive measure of the State’s failure here: The Board’s last annual report (pdf at 22) asserts: “Board members continue to perceive a lack of statutory authority to require the most effective actions by local school systems. That remains the purview, under the Code of Virginia, of the local school board.”  Yet they can fire a Superintendent who does not toe their line.  Even more to the point, the Board has the authority to sue to compel compliance with the Standards of Quality.  Trouble is, to get a remedy the Board would have to tell the judge what a school or division must do to meet the standards.  The Board’s record of failure and its admissions (video of 9/21/16 at 1:48:30 et seq.) reveal that it does not know what to tell the judge.

Beyond question, Virginia has some awful schools.  Beyond question, those schools need to be fixed.  These data suggest that the Board of Education should go try to find something useful to do and leave Petersburg (and Richmond and Norfolk and . . . ) to fixing those awful schools, not implementing “plans” that only generate futile paperwork for the bureaucrats in the 14th St. Office Building.

The Board already is spending some portion of a $92 million budget on this charade.  They couldn’t do a worse job (and just just might help some schools) (and surely would be more honest) if they just gave the money they are wasting to Petersburg et al. to hire decent principals.

Your tax dollars at “work.”

Truant in Richmond

WaPo yesterday has a piece on a UVa truancy study that is based on USDOE’s 2014 “civil rights” database.

Here is one eye-opener from the study:


Note: The Feds count as “chronic” an absence of fifteen or more school days, whether excused or not.  Fifteen days is 8.3% of the statutory 180 day school year.

In fact, the Richmond situation is worse in some places (and much better in others) than the UVa figure suggests:


Do you wonder that Richmond has stopped posting its truancy numbers and, particularly, the numbers of court cases that are required by state law after the seventh unexcused absence?

The Moving Finger Writes . . .

We saw earlier this morning that some of the accreditation numbers have changed since the initial data release from VDOE.

The estimable Chuck Pyle of VDOE tells me:

After the news release went out, [some] divisions communicated that they would not seek reconstitution for these schools, so they were denied accreditation as that is the rating required by the SOA.

In reality, TBD is just another label for “accreditation denied” but, formally, the numbers did change.  Here is the latest version:


The footnote to “Improving School-Pass Rate” applies to the three schools (including Stuart in Richmond) that achieved the status under new rules adopted in July.

Restating all that in terms of reality:


Here is the Richmond list:


Unfortunately, we also have seen that denial of accreditation brings on the Board of Education’s “leadership” that is almost entirely ineffective for curing the lack of accreditation.

Leaderless in Virginia

Having seen the Board of “Education” members admit that they don’t know how to fix Virginia’s failing schools, I thought I’d turn to the results of their “leadership,” (also see this) for those schools.

Back in 2011, only two schools were denied accreditation: Peabody Middle in Petersburg and Lafayette-Winona in Norfolk.  Since then, VBO”E” has been handing out denials wholesale.


Particularly to the older cities.


The Board says its accreditation standards “are designed to ensure that an effective educational program is established and maintained in Virginia’s public schools.”  And, indeed, the Board requires a mountain of paperwork from schools that have been denied accreditation.  At a minimum:

  • A Corrective Action Plan;
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (bureaucratese for an unenforceable contract); and
  • Status reports.

So let’s see what all this activity has “ensure[d].”

Peabody Middle School in Petersburg has been denied accreditation since before 2011.  More then six years of “leadership” from VBO”E” have left Peabody mired in failure.


Recall that the current threshold for accreditation is 75 in English and 70 otherwise.  The “adjustments” will boost these pass rates by a few points for accreditation purposes, but nowhere near to accreditation levels. 

Indeed, the Board of “Education” has not even approached “ensur[ing] . . . an effective educational program” at Peabody.

Norfolk’s Lafayette-Winona Middle School was denied accreditation before 2011; that denial continued through 2013.  The school then disappeared from the VDOE’s accreditation records although VDOE reported the pass rates through 2014. 


For sure, it was not on a path to quick accreditation as of 2014.

Perhaps it was merged or otherwise converted to a “new” school, which allowed it to obtain the new school freebie, or was otherwise renamed.  Perchance someone who knows the Norfolk situation can identify a successor school for me.  Until then, I’ll expect the school is yet another VBO”E” failure.

Jefferson-Houston Elementary in Alexandria was one of the two schools newly denied accreditation in 2012.  They took a hit from the new math tests that year and were hurt by the new English tests in 2013.  Their science scores dropped in 2014; that’s a year too late to blame the new science tests from ‘13. 


They have recovered somewhat, but only to a school average pass rate of 55%, which is far too low a rate for even the Board’s opaque “adjustments” to convert to accreditation.

William H. Ruffner Middle School in Norfolk also lost accreditation in 2012. 


With the “leadership” of VBO”E,” their performance has barely budged since then.

The 2013 school year brought two more denials of accreditation.

Lindenwood Elementary School in Norfolk started the year in fair shape, except for math, and then fell off a cliff.


It has recovered some, especially in math, but has suffered in science.  Despite all the “leadership” from VBO“E,” it remains unaccredited.

Petersburg’s A.P. Hill Elementary School was in trouble in 2011.  It took a hit in math in 2012 and fell off its own cliff in 2013.


Hill then recovered nicely and regained accreditation in 2015.  On the face of the matter there’s no way to tell the source of this transformation, so VBO”E” gets to take the credit.

School year 2014, when the three year rolling average “adjustments” started having less effect on the 2012-13 score drops, found seven more schools denied accreditation.

Sedgefield Elementary School in Newport News displayed the pass rate drops we have come to expect: math in 2012, English and science in 2013.


The school made a nice recovery in 2015 but gave back about half of it in 2016.  It remains in “denied” status.

Newsome Park Elementary School, also in Newport News, showed a similar pattern of decline but remains in a sump of failure, with all its pass rates below 50%.


L. Douglas Wilder Middle School in Henrico started out with excellent scores in science, acceptable (or nearly acceptable) scores in English and in History & Social Science but awful math performance.


The new tests clobbered all but the History & SS pass rates, all of which have recovered only slightly.  Count one more failure of the VBO”E” “leadership.”

Lake Taylor Middle School in Norfolk shows a similar pattern and counts as yet another instance where “leadership” from VBO”E” has not led to accreditation.


Kiptopeke Elementary School in Northampton suffered from the new math and reading tests but recovered into accreditation territory in every subject except reading.


The opaque but always helpful VBO”E” “adjustments” converted Kiptopeke’s 74.45% reading pass rate in 2016 into a 77 and allowed the school to regain accreditation.

Norfolk’s Campostella Elementary School was in trouble before the new tests and in big trouble after.  It has not recovered, all the “leadership” from VBO”E” notwithstanding.


The school disappeared from the accreditation list in 2016, perhaps replaced by Southside STEM Academy at Campostella, which also was denied accreditation.

Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk recovered nicely from the new tests except that its writing scores declined year upon year.


The school now enjoys “Partially Accredited: Approaching Benchmark-Pass Rate” status: Close but still not accredited.

Richmond’s Fred D. Thompson Middle School was denied accreditation in 2014 but was combined with Elkhardt Middle School the next year and, thus, disappeared from the unaccredited list.

It’s too early to draw any conclusions about the seventeen schools newly denied accreditation in 2015 (although two of them either made it back or otherwise got off the list the next year) or the twenty-four in 2016.  So let’s look at the earlier years:


For those schools where we have data, the leading Board of “Education” can claim credit in three of thirteen cases if we count B.T. Washington as a wash, two of eleven if we look just at the other schools. 

After the “adjustments,” a Virginia school can retain accreditation with over a quarter of its students failing the SOLs.  The Board of “Education” has a batting average of .231 or .182, depending on how we count Norfolk’s B.T. Washington High School, in “ensur[ing]” that schools attain even that undemanding failure rate. 

So we see that the Board, even with its corrective action plans and MOUs and status reports and other “leadership,” is failing in about 80% of its efforts to assist schools that have been denied accreditation.

This Board and its bureaucracy are costing us somewhere north of $92 million this year.  At least insofar as the schools that have been denied accreditation, it’s clear that the money is being wasted: Our Board of “Education” doesn’t know how to fix out broken schools and its lousy performance reflects that ignorance.

Your tax dollars at “work.”

The Ignorant Governing the Incompetent

At the Sept. 21 meeting of the accountability committee (a committee of the whole) of the Board of “Education,” Dan Gecker remarked that MOUs (“Memoranda of Understanding,” bureaucratese for unenforceable agreements) don’t do anything: We’ve had thirteen MOUs at Petersburg.

A search of the Board’s agenda [Don’t rag on me about number; “agendum” is the singular] suggests that “thirteen” MOUs is an exaggeration.  But Gecker’s point is well taken: Petersburg has been operating under MOUs with the Board since at least 2004

Petersburg’s pass rate history shows a flirtation with accreditation that ended precipitously with the new tests in 2012 and 2013.


At present, Petersburg has been rescued from its last-in-the-state position only by Richmond’s malpractice:

The efforts of the Board of “Education” have produced mountains of paper while leaving Petersburg’s (and Richmond’s and too many other divisions’) schools free to damage the children they are paid to educate.

Your tax dollars at “work.”


Note added on 10/2:

Some good and some perhaps bad news about Petersburg: The cohort size decreases over time tell us that fewer and fewer kids are being damaged by VBOE’s “help.”


In light of the appalling SOL pass rates, the increasing graduation rates suggest that P’Burg is giving diplomas to kids who haven’t earned them.

School Improvement Theater–Chapter 3

We’ve already seen the applications for “reconstituted” status of Woodville, the worst performer of the twelve Richmond applicants this year, and Blackwell, the second worst.  Both of those posts set out the background on the reconstitution process.

Next up:  Third worst, Chimborazo

Chimborazo’s already unacceptable performance deteriorated this year in reading and math:




  1. The “All” entries refer to the tests on the selected subject.  In these graphs, it means grades 3-5 for reading and math, grades 3 & 5 for science.
  2. These data are pass rates, not the inflated accreditation rates.

Chimborazo has been a Focus School since 2015.  Fat lot of good that did.

The science data paint a far happier picture:


The application [Item F] tells us that Chimborazo is a Title I school with no English language learners and 61 of 416 (15%) Special Ed students. 

The application is blank at the “Free/Reduced Lunch Eligible Percentage.”  VDOE tells us that this school’s student population is 83% economically disadvantaged. 

We know that academic performance decreases with increasing poverty.  But 83% ED does not tell the whole story. 


Chimborazo, the red circle on this graph, considerably underperforms other Richmond schools with similar or more challenging populations.


Moreover, notice above that Chimborazo gets nearly state average science pass rates from the same students who suffer miserable pass rates in reading and math.  The difference between science and reading/math can’t be the students; it must be the teaching.

As we saw earlier, the (former) Principal at Chimborazo rated six teachers (15% of 39) as Exemplary, twenty-eight (72%) as Proficient, four (10%) as Needs Improvement, and one (2.6%) as Unacceptable.  Yet, with all those purportedly fine teachers, Chimborazo’s subject average pass rate was the 26th worst (of 1715) in the state.

The Chimborazo application proposes reconstitution in Governance, Instructional Program, and Staff.

Governance:  Chimborazo will have a new Principal and Assistant. 

They do not tell us whether the departures of the incumbents were forced or adventitious.  As to what these new bureaucrats will actually do, they say only:  “New principal and new assistant principal to present new ideas and relationship building activities to assist teachers and students with bonding.”  There’s no mention there of rigor, or evaluation, or accountability.

There will be two teachers, one an eleven month employee, acting as IB coordinators and providing “intense” teacher training.  There is no discussion of the place of the IB program at a school that can’t teach its students to read.

Instructional Program:  Currently the teachers handle all subjects, K-5.  The school will “departmentalize[]” teams in grades 3-5 “to allow teachers to focus on specific subject matter.”  Nice jargon; wonder what it means.

Collaborative planning will be doubled from one to two days per week at all grade levels.

“All grade levels will move toward co-taught classrooms and away from the self-contained model for students with special education needs.”  Whatever that means.

Staff:  All new teachers will be mentored.

Family Engagement:  The application contains a page and a half of family activities but no information as to how the families will be enticed to participate.

Peroration:  Quote without comment:


Then, without any further explanation, the Trajectory of Progress shows English and History scores improving to the accreditation minima by 2019 but the math score increasing only to 61, which is nine points short.


So, entirely aside from the jargon, the occasional statement that does not make sense, the lack of any explanation as to how the proposed changes will produce the trajectory of increasing scores, and the absence of any kind of accountability, Chimborazo proposes to “reconstitute” in order to remain unaccredited.

This reminds us of Woodville’s plan to not be accredited and Blackwell’s better but wholly nonspecific plan.  And this “plan” is the twin of those plans in its failure to hold anybody accountable for anything.


  • The Chairman of our School Board signed this application [item F];
  • VDOE collaborated [9/22 video at 1:48:56] in its creation; and
  • A subcommittee, presumably of the Board of Education, reviewed it [9/22 video at 1:53].  (See below)

The level of fecklessness in this application (as with the astounding level in the Woodville application and the lesser but still unacceptable level in the Blackwell document) is troublesome, of course.  But the involvement of VDOE and the Board of Education in this school improvement theater raises an ugly question: Does the state education bureaucracy not care about the awful performance of these schools or does it not know how to improve that performance?


The always helpful Chuck Pyle points out that the Board of Education’s Accountability Committee (a committee of the whole)  met on these applications the day before the 9/22 Board meeting.  Perhaps that is the “subcommittee” mentioned at the Board meeting.

The committee minutes are not yet up but the video of the meeting [click the 9/21 video link] is instructive.

  • 56:20: Intro to the discussion.
  • 1:08: Intro to discussion of schools that did not demonstrate progress.
  • 1:30:40 to 1:32:58: “Discussion” of Blackwell, Chimborazo, Mason, Overby, Westover Hills, Woodville, and TJ.
  • 1:42:35: What is the recourse for the awful decline at Woodville?  Following discussion suggests that they will demand an MOU (incorporating a “corrective action plan”) at Woodville; beyond that they do not have an answer. 
  • One happy moment at 1:48:18: Dan Gecker makes the only sensible statement: Another MOU won’t change anything; we’ve had thirteen MOUs at Petersburg; we need a systemic approach.

Bottom line:

  • Much talk;
  • Gecker knows that what they’re doing doesn’t work;

Your tax dollars at “work.”

Carver But Not Walker

The Feds have just named seven Virginia schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools.  They choose the schools based on performance on standardized tests or for “closing achievement gaps.”

This year’s list included Carver, selected as [search for Carver] an Exemplary High Performing School.  Indeed, Carver was the best performing elementary school in Richmond this year and the sixteenth best school in the state.

The list did not include Maggie Walker.  Indeed, the list never [search for Walker in all years] has included Maggie Walker.  Yet Walker was rated tenth best public high school in the nation in 2014 by the Daily Beast.

But, you see, Maggie Walker is a “program,” not a “school.”  So the scores go to high schools in the students’ home districts, albeit those students do not attend those high schools.

Never mind that it has a school board and is accredited as a “school” and has a four-year program and grants diplomas to the 100% of its students who graduate.

Do you suppose the feds know that VDOE is lying to them about the SOL scores of our local high schools?  Do you care that VDOE brokered this corrupt deal so the local Superintendents would let their bright kids go to MLW without lowering the SOLs of the local high schools?  Do you wonder that VDOE manipulates other data (see this and this for some introductory examples; as soon as Bacon’s Rebellion gets its server back up, I’ll add some other links here)?

Your tax dollars at “work.”

Graduation and Not, 2016

VDOE posted the 2016 4-year cohort graduation data yesterday.  Their press release burbled on about the increase of the On-Time rate to over 91%. 

As we shall see, the On-Time rate is a fiction, created by VDOE to inflate the rate.  But first, some background.

  • The Standard Diploma requires twenty-two “standard credits” and six “verified credits” in specified subjects.  
  • The Advanced Studies Diploma requires twenty-four standard and nine verified credits.

These are the only diplomas recognized by the Feds for calculation of the federal graduation indicator.  VDOE counts three further diplomas toward its inflated “On-Time” graduation rate:

  • The Modified Standard Diploma is available to students “who have a disability and are unlikely to meet the credit requirements for a Standard Diploma.”  This diploma is being phased out in favor of “credit accommodations” that will allow students who would have pursued a Modified Standard Diploma to earn a Standard Diploma.  Those of us who have watched the wholesale institutional cheating via the VGLA may be forgiven for thinking that these accommodations will be a fertile field for schools and divisions to game the system.
  • The Special Diploma, now known by the new euphemism “Applied Studies Diploma,” “is available to students with disabilities who complete the requirements of their Individualized Education Program (IEP) and who do not meet the requirements of for other diplomas.”
  • The General Achievement Diploma “is intended for individuals who are at least 18 years of age and not enrolled in public school or not otherwise meeting the compulsory school attendance requirements set forth in the Code of Virginia.”  This one does not amount to much in the stats: Richmond had none this year; Virginia, fewer than ten.

I have commented elsewhere on Richmond’s abuse of the process for identifying and testing kids with disabilities.

This year, the 4-year cohort On-Time rate for Virginia was 91.3%.  The federal graduation indicator, known here as the “actual” graduation rate, was 87.7%.

Here are the actual cohort rates.


That 18% difference between the state and Richmond rates is 266 members of the Richmond cohort of 1,476.  Doubtless too many of that 266 will wind up as people you would not want to meet in a dark alley.

Here are the same data, juxtaposed with the inflated “On-Time” rates.


The statewide difference between the “On Time” and federal rates was 3.6% or 3,439 students; the Richmond difference was 10.6%, 156 students.

An analysis by degree type shows Richmond’s shortage of advanced diplomas and excess of nonstandard degrees. 


The Richmond rate decreased this year.


Note:  The estimable Carol Wolf reminds me that all the Richmond graduation rates are bogus in that the Maggie Walker students are reported at high schools they do not attend.

School Improvement Theater, Chapter 2

Blackwell had the second-worst performance among the twelve Richmond schools that flunked accreditation for a third year running and applied for “reconstituted” status.  Blackwell missed accreditation in Reading, Math, and Science.  Blackwell also had the 17th lowest pass rate of 1715 Virginia schools.

Before we turn to the Blackwell application [Item F], here is a summary of the school’s performance:



  • The “All” entries refer to the tests on the selected subject.  In the graph above, it indicates reading at all the elementary grades tested, i.e., 3-5.
  • These data are pass rates, not the inflated accreditation rates.



Blackwell has been a focus school since 2014.  Fat lot of good that did.

The regulation at 8VAC20-131-315.C tells us:

[A] local school board may choose to reconstitute a school rated Accreditation Denied and apply to the Board of Education for a rating of Partially Accredited: Reconstituted School. The application shall outline specific responses that address all areas of deficiency that resulted in the Accreditation Denied rating . . .

Blackwell’s application can be found in the agenda for the Sept. 22, 2016 meeting of the Board of Education.  It provides some basic data:


The VDOE database contradicts the Free/Reduced number; it reports an economically disadvantaged total of 77%.  Given that students receiving Free/Reduced Meals are included in the ED count, we can be sure that one of these numbers is wrong.

See the note below regarding that 77% (or, perhaps, 100%).

The application also provides some Virginia Studies scores that do not appear in the database:


As we saw earlier, 97% of the Blackwell teachers were rated “proficient” and only one (2.6%) “needs improvement” in 2016. 

This school produced the third worst overall elementary school pass rate in Richmond (which had the lowest overall rate in Virginia) but the Principal (former Principal, thankfully) reports that all but one of the teachers did just fine, thank you.

The application proposes reconstruction in the areas of Governance, Instructional Program, Staff, and Student Population.


Yet the application discusses only two of these: Instructional Program and Staff.

Instructional Program:  As was the case at Woodville, Blackwell has been using the Benchmark Literacy and Envision Math programs.  They now will implement both “with fidelity.”

They don’t tell us what “fidelity” means in this context.  Given that Woodville proposes exactly the same new “practice,” with exactly the same lack of specificity, this looks to be VDOE jargon, not any kind of proposal for actual improvement.

Staff:  The Principal has retired and will be replaced.  An Assistant Principal also has left and will be replaced.

Family Engagement:  They will have PTA participation, a monthly calendar of parental involvement, and, every nine weeks, “Literacy and Mathematics Night.”  There is no mention of how they will entice parents into these activities.

That’s all, folks!  They will replace the departed Principal and Assistant; they will have some opportunities for parental participation; they will do more of what they did when failing, but now with “fidelity.”  No change in Governance; no change in Student Population: Never mind that they checked both of those boxes on the form.

The application does not tell us how this continuation of failed teaching and teachers will improve education at the school; it fails to mention accountability, either in the past or — crucial if this were a serious exercise — going forward.

The “Rationale” predicts, with no discussion of basis, gains of 18% in English, 17% in math, and 26% in science over the three-year reconstitution period.  They say “[i]t is hoped that the school will reach full accreditation over the three year period.”


The table also shows an 9 point overall history gain not mentioned in the “Rationale.”  The “Reconstitution Information” section of the application is silent as to both history and science so it seems that Blackwell expects the new principal and assistant (or maybe magic?) to produce both that history gain and the 26 point science gain listed in this Trajectory.

In contrast to Woodville, Blackwell proposes to achieve accreditation within the three year period.  Unfortunately, the school predicts this progress without any analysis and without proposing to do anything significant to interrupt its record of failure and without installing any accountability for its past or future performance.  As well, the application neglects to include improvements it promises in the Governance and Student Population areas.

In marked contrast to Woodville, the writing in this application is tolerable.  It is larded with bureaucratese and it is submerged in the passive voice, but it is capable of being understood, insofar as it actually says anything.

In short: This is an exercise in hope, not rigor. 


The general level of fecklessness in this application (as with the astounding level in the Woodville application) is troublesome, of course.  But the involvement of VDOE and Board of Education in this school improvement theater raises an ugly pair of alternatives: Either the state education bureaucracy doesn’t care about the awful performance of these schools or it doesn’t know how to improve that performance. 

Perhaps we’ll learn more when the Board of Education votes on these applications in October.


Poverty Note: The 100% (more likely, 77%) poverty rate at Blackwell certainly is high.  We know that academic performance decreases with increasing poverty.  But poverty does not tell the whole story:


Blackwell is the red circle.  Notice the schools with similar or more poverty and much better performance, notably


Surely poverty makes the job more challenging at Blackwell.  But poverty is not the explanation for Blackwell’s unacceptable performance.