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.

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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.

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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. 

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The Richmond rate decreased this year.

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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:

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Notes:

  • 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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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.”

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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. 

Nonetheless,

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.

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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:

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

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

Worst of the Worst

While looking at the applications for “reconstitution” of twelve unaccredited Richmond schools, I pulled the 2016 pass rates for all Virginia schools.

Here, without further comment, are the bottom twenty (of 1715) by overall average.

Well, one comment: The Richmond schools are highlighted in yellow.

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One further comment: The tests are different for the high, middle, and elementary schools so the pass rates between the three groups do not compare directly.

The Indifferent Leading the Inept

As we have seen, Woodville is one – perhaps the worst – of twelve Richmond schools that flunked accreditation for a third year running and applied for “reconstituted” status.

Before we turn to the Woodville application, here is a summary of Woodville’s performance:

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Notes:

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

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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 . . .

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

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See the note below regarding that 93%.

The application also provides some Virginia Studies scores (probably accreditation scores) that my spreadsheet did not:

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We saw earlier that 74% of the Woodville teachers were rated “proficient” and 26%, “needs improvement” in 2016.  So this school suffers one of the worst pass rates in Virginia but the Principal tells us that three quarters of the teachers are “proficient.”

That Principal has one year of experience as a principal.

The application proposes reconstitution in the areas of governance, instructional program, and staff.

Governance:  Woodville will add a administrative dean to the current Principal and two assistants.  The rationale:

The administrator’s (sic) ability to monitor and support teachers will increase as administrative duties will be equitably distributed.  All administrators will be tasked with the daily monitoring of instructional practices . . .   Administrators will increase formal and informal observations by at least 50%.

Aside from the problem with the English of these folks who supervise the teaching of English to our children, we have the fundamental issue: Instead of replacing the bureaucrats (and teachers) who led Woodville into the subbasement of failure, they propose to add a new bureaucrat and “increase . . . observations”  by the “leaders” who have demonstrated their incompetence.

And, most important: There’s no accountability in here for anybody.  They’re going to monitor and support and conduct observations but with no standards of performance for themselves or the monitored.  

Instructional Program, Reading:  The application tells us that many teachers now use the Benchmark Literacy Reading Program.  Woodville will implement it “with fidelity” this year, albeit they don’t say how the previous use has failed to be faithful or whether this year’s faithful implementation will include more teachers than used the program before.  More fundamentally, the application doesn’t tell us how many of Woodville’s manifestly incompetent reading teachers will be replaced.

Instructional Program, Math:  The application says:

Currently, the use of the array of math resources provided with the EnVision math program are (sic) inconsistent with many teachers.

Even aside from the problem with subject-verb agreement, it’s hard to know what that sentence means.  The proposed new practice does not shed light on that question:

It will be required that the EnVision math program components and activities be used more consistently during math instruction as it aligns with the outlined curriculum.

Whew!

  • Will EnVision be used all the time or just more often?
  • Will it be used by all the math teachers or a few more or no more?
  • Is the antecedent of “it” the program or the (plural) components and activities?  In any case, why is the current program not aligned with the curriculum; who is responsible for the lack of alignment; will that person or those persons be fired?
  • So it “will be required.”  Will they assess whether it’s used?  What will happen to math teachers who don’t use it?
  • What will happen to that minority of teachers who were evaluated as needing improvement and most of that majority who, while evaluated as “satisfactory,” plainly can’t teach?
  • Will the “more consistent[]” use just be a bit more consistent or entirely consistent?
  • Why should we think that “more consistent[]” use of the program will, in the hands of incompetent teachers and administrators, improve anything?

Staff, Title I Math Resource Teacher:  The application says:

The Title I Math Resource Teacher was added to our school this year.  Until the 2015-16 school year, we only had one Title I Math Teacher.

The Title I Math Resource Teacher retired at the end of the school year.  We plan to hire a new Title I Math teacher for the upcoming school year.

The only interpretation that makes sense of that mishmash is: “We hired our first Title I Math Resource Teacher in 2015-16.  He/she retired at the end of the year.  We’ll hire a replacement.”  But I wouldn’t bet you a #2 lead pencil on that or any other attempted translation.

Then we have what this Resource Teacher will do:

The . . . Teacher will share the responsibility of supporting, coaching, modeling best practices in math while supporting individual and small groups of students based on weak skills.  Students will reduce the failure rate in the area of math by at least 10%.

Hmmm:

  • “Supporting” and “coaching” and “modeling” but not supervising?
  • “Supporting” practices or teachers?
  • “[B]ased on weak skills”:  Whose?
  • “Students” will reduce the failure rate, not the learning imparted by this Resource Teacher or the coached teachers?
  • Given that the former Math Resource Teacher failed to accomplish anything useful, why should we think this one will perform differently?
  • Will they do nothing more about retraining and nothing at all about replacing their cadre of awful teachers?

Staff, PBIS Coach:  (The Web site says that the theme of  Positive Behavioral Interventions & Support is “teaching behavioral expectations in the same manner as any core curriculum subject.”)

The school added a PBIS coach near the end of the 2016 year.  They propose to keep that coach and create “a more positive climate and environment” and reduce suspensions by 20%.

Again, no discussion of why more inputs will improve the grossly deficient output.  And no discussion of retraining or replacing ineffective teachers.

Family Engagement:  The application provides a page and a half of “Activit[ies]” to involve parents and “Impact[s]” of that involvement without discussing how the school intends to lure the parents into participating in the activities.

Closing Rationale . . .:  Woodville’s peroration claims a 5% reading increase and an 11% math increase from “2015/16 to 2016/17” (presumably accreditation years; testing years are one year earlier).  In fact, for the 2015 to 2016 school years, the reading pass rate increased 4.7% (to 33.2%) and the math rate, 8.9% (to 38.5%).  At those rates of increase, Woodville would be accredited for reading based on the 2025 testing and for math, 2021.

Woodville projects English score increases to 55 in 2020 (accreditation year, based on the 2019 testing) and math increases that year to 60.

Facial Insufficiency:  Never mind the incompetent use of the Mother Tongue by people who purport to teach English to our children.  Never mind the confused and vacuous proposals that fail to deal with the incompetent teachers and administrators who sank Woodville into a quagmire of failure.  Never mind the absence of any kind of accountability.  The application is defective on its face:

The regulation is not a marvel of specificity as to the requirements for reconstituted status:

The application shall outline specific responses that address all areas of deficiency that resulted in the Accreditation Denied rating . . .

The regulation nonetheless provides:

The school will revert to a status of Accreditation Denied if it fails to meet the requirements to be rated Fully Accredited by the end of the three-year term. . .

Yet Woodville proposes to miss the standard for English accreditation by twenty points and the math requirement by ten at the end of the three year reconstitution period.  Woodville thus proposes to “address” its failure to be accredited by failing to be accredited.

The Chairman of our School Board embarrassed himself by signing this thing.  The Secretary of Education embarrassed himself by forwarding it to the State Board for action. 

Then we have the State Board: The video of the Sept. 22 meeting tells us (start at 1:48):

  • These applications have been reviewed by a subcommittee (1:48:56);
  • The plans were prepared in collaboration with VDOE (1:51); and
  • The federal requirement that the principal of the failed school be replaced is going away (1:53).

At 1:51:50 of the video, staff recommended that the Board “receive” the requests “for first review.”  The video does not show a vote on that recommendation (at least not there or immediately thereafter).  We’ll see what the minutes say.

To the point, this embarrassing application was created in “collaboration” with VDOE and it has survived review by a subcommittee (presumably of the Board).  We’ll see whether the Board affirms all this fecklessness by a final action in October.

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Note:  The 93% Free and Reduced Lunch rate reported above looks in fact to be the Economically Disadvantaged rate.

93% certainly is high.  And we know that academic performance decreases with increasing poverty.  But poverty tells only part of the story.

Here are the Richmond elementary school data for the 2016 school year:

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Woodville is the red circle.  And it is the low scoring outlier.  The outliers in the other direction are:

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Doubtless poverty makes the job more challenging at Woodville.  But poverty is not the explanation for Woodville’s awful performance.

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Next up: An even larger Another embarrassment (if that were possible): Blackwell.

Lake Woebegone of Teachers II

We have seen that the evaluation scheme in effect in 2011 held that Richmond’s teachers failed in some respect to meet expectations in only 0.72% of the items in the evaluations.

Richmond’s application for “reconstituted” status gives us a picture of the current situation:   The Accreditation process this year left sixteen Richmond schools unaccredited and in TBD status.  The Board of “Education” minutes (Hat Tip: Jim Weigand) contain the applications of twelve of the sixteen for “reconstituted” status.  Presumably the other four will go to some other form of unaccredited. 

Those applications contain some interesting data.  Here is a summary of some of it.  The first five columns report teacher evaluation totals.

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*”Developing/Needs Improvement”

Of the 444 teachers in these twelve failed schools, only 0.9% were evaluated as “Unacceptable” this year and another 7.2% as needing improvement. 

Yet all of these schools underperformed, some grossly.  Here are the details:

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Reid (Multiple entries because the name changed):

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And, finally, TJ, all grades:

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So, scores ranging from poor to awful, but very few teachers performing below average?

Then we have the principals: From the paperwork here, it’s not clear but as many as ten of the twelve could have kept their jobs.  Clearly, any principal who evaluates failing performance as “Proficient” needs to find work more suited to his/her talents.

And then we have the “Priority” status schools: Four since 2014, one since 2015.  Except, perhaps, for Ginter Park and Reid, this looks like squandered money.

And last, if you have a strong stomach, you can read the “plans” of these twelve schools.  There’s lot of feel-good bureaucratese there but only a few faint hints of the necessary measures: Fire all principals (and a bunch of the teachers); replace them with proven performers; hold the new principals responsible for improving performance.  Oh, and fire the Superintendent who oversaw this disaster.

It’s not as if we can’t afford to do this right.  On the 2015 data (the latest available until this Spring), we have the tenth most expensive division in the state.  (On the current data, we have the worst 2016 5-subject pass rate):

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On the 2013 data (that I need to update), we were wasting 50+ million dollars per year.

We have LOTS of money.  We just need to direct it to hiring first rate people instead of wasting it.

Your tax dollars at “work.”

Westover Hills SOL Performance

Here are the Westover Hills performance data, with the Richmond and state averages for comparison.

Notes:

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Carver Shines; Superintendent Does Not

Carver Shines

Delving further into the SOL database, I have created a spreadsheet to show the pass rate by year of any of Richmond’s elementary schools and compare it to the division pass rate. 

For example, here are the graphs it produced for Carver

(Recall that the nominal cutoff for accreditation is 75% for English, 70% for the other subject areas.)

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What About Other Schools?

The spreadsheet is posted on OneDrive

To look at a school that interests you, select the subject area, subject, and test level on the Division pivot table and select the school and its subject area, subject, and test level on the school pivot table.  The results will appear in the table below the pivot tables and in the graph to the right.

The graph output will tell you if you’ve selected something, e.g., fourth grade math, for which there are no or incomplete data.  The pivot table selection box will tell you if you’ve selected two or more subjects or tests or schools by saying “(Multiple Items).”  And, of course, both the pivot tables and the graph will tell you if you select different subject areas, tests, or test levels for the division and school.

Are Those Carver Numbers Real?

Those splendid numbers at Carver raise a troublesome question: Is that a terrific principal (she has been there since 2012) or is she running a massive cheating program?

We can get an inference from these data: Notice how the 3d Grade Reading and 5th Grade Science weathered the new tests in 2013 while the other data show hits from the new tests and recoveries later.  Fifth Grade Reading dropped with the new tests in ‘13 and started to recover the next year; 3d Grade Math dropped in ‘12 and took three years to bounce up; 5th grade math dropped in 12 and took 2 years to recover.

This suggests outstanding leadership.  A massive cheating program should have prevented all three drops or, at least, should have produced immediate recoveries.  Leadership is less likely to show immediate, across the board results.

Notwithstanding that happy implication of these data, the question deserves a definitive answer.

Does Our Superintendent Know?

Our new Superintendent has been in the saddle since January, 2014, so he is responsible for the awful division performances in 2015 and 2016.  In light of that, and the remarkable numbers at Carver, I pose the question to him: 

Are they cheating at Carver? 

The matrix below shows the possible answers and, given that the Carver principal still has her job, my suggested responses for each.

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BTW: The answer is available from the Superintendent’s computer.  All he needs to do is compare the middle school performance in the last two years of Carver graduates with students from other elementary schools.  (Hat Tip: The estimable Carol Wolf.)  If those Carver students have been taught well, they should outperform their peers; if Carver has been a cheating factory, its graduates will underperform.

Of course, VDOE could run those data, too.  But we won’t be holding our breaths: VDOE has demonstrated (several times [scroll down 2 paras. to Buchanan Co.]) that it doesn’t care about cheating so long as the numbers look good. 

Your tax dollars at “work.”

Lies, Damn Lies, and Accreditation

The accreditation scores for 2016-2017, based on the 2016 testing, are up on the VDOE site.

In the distant past (2005), VDOE’s opaque accreditation process transformed 76.3 and 73.7 math scores at Jeter-Watson into “perfect scores” and embarrassed the Governor.

They now admit to the practice:

Accreditation ratings also reflect adjustments made for schools that successfully remediate students who initially fail reading or mathematics tests. Adjustments also may be made for students with limited English proficiency and for students who have recently transferred into a Virginia public school. All of these factors are taken into account in calculating pass rates in each subject area.

(But don’t ask them for the retake data.  They’ll tell you to go breathe ozone.)

The accreditation “adjustments” to pass rates are not so dramatic these days, an average of 2.25 points on the math tests this year, but they still have significant effects.

Turning to the current data, here are the distributions of math pass rates and “adjusted” rates, by school.

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The green diamonds are the counts of actual math pass rates by school; the gold squares are the counts of the “adjusted” rates; the smooth curves are fitted Gaussian distributions.  The fitted mean increases from 83.2 to 85.3.

Note: The database has math accreditation scores for 45 schools that are missing from the SOL database; I have omitted those schools.  Similarly, the SOL database has math scores for eight schools that do not appear in the accreditation database.  The data here are for the 1774 schools that appear in both lists.

The plot of counts of “adjusted” minus actual rates emphasizes how the “adjustments” decrease the numbers of not-accredited scores (<70) and increase the counts of accredited scores.

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Notice how the number of “Adjusted” scores decreases just below and about the 70 point cutoff and increases up in the “accredited” range.  In fact, the “adjustments” inflate the number of accredited schools from 1555 to 1653.  That boosts the percentage of schools from 87.7% to 93.2%.

NOTE: These numbers are math only; the number of schools fully accredited for all subjects and graduation rates is, of course, smaller.

VDOE writes the SOL tests.  They can boost the pass – and accreditation – rates simply by making the tests easier.  Yet they indulge in this opaque process to produce meaningless numbers.

And remember that the pass rates themselves have been fudged: See this and this.

Moreover, they do not adjust the scores for the one factor that they measure and that we know affects the rates: Economic Disadvantage.

So “opaque” is insufficient.  “Opaque and corrupt and unfair” comes closer.

Your tax dollars at “work.”

Priority for Wasting Money

We have seen that Richmond has 36% of the “Priority Schools” in the state.  Those schools “must engage a state-approved turnaround partner to help implement a school-improvement model meeting state and federal requirements.”

You can stop right there and expect this to be a boondoggle.  Sort through all that jargon (“turnaround partner,” “help implement,” “school-improvement model,” “meet[] state and federal requirements”)  and you won’t find a word about helping the kids learn better.

To take a look at the results of this designation and process, I’ve pulled the pass rates by subject area for the ten schools in Richmond that have been in Priority status for two years or more.

Here, for a start, are the results for Richmond Alternative, which has been in Priority status since 2013.

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Whatever is going on there (and it can’t be good), Priority status doesn’t look to have helped any.

The only high school in Priority status, John Marshall, has been there since 2013.  Here, for a start, are the Marshall reading pass rate by year and the average of the mainstream high schools.

Note: The “High Schools” average here excludes the selective high schools Open and Community.  Also excluded is Franklin Military, which is selective and which includes middle school grades.  Also note that the high school pass rates are inflated to some extent by inclusion of the Maggie Walker students that live in the relevant districts, albeit those students do not attend these high schools.

BTW: The nominal cut levels for accreditation in reading and writing are 75%; for all the others, 70%.

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The green points indicate the years of Priority status.  It does not seem to have helped any here.

Next, writing, where Priority status looks to have been more associated with failure than success.

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History & Social Science data: More of the same, after an encouraging start.

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Mathematics, ditto, again after a nice start.

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And last, science, where the Priority process again looks to have done more harm than good, dropping Marshall below the accreditation cut line.

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After those pictures of failure, the middle schools at least show some mixed outcomes.  First reading.

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The “Middle Schools” numbers are Richmond averages with Franklin Military excluded.  Again, the green points indicate Priority status: Henderson and King since 2013, Binford since 2014.

The middle school average is an appalling 51% this year but Binford has improved to a merely bad 64%, and Henderson to an unconscionable, 39%.  King, in contrast, has declined slightly to 24%.  It’s hard to find a adjective ugly enough to describe King’s condition.

As bad as these numbers are, at least we see some progress.  The writing scores, however, are uniformly appalling.

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In contrast, history & social science data show a middle school average at the border of accreditation, with Binford improving nicely, Henderson improving overall.  MLK again languishes in unspeakable failure.

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The math scores again are disasters, albeit Binford again shows improvement.  Henderson improves a little and King again declines, with both schools far into Principal firing territory.

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Finally, science.  Binford again shines, here approaching accreditation level.  Henderson again shows some improvement and King again is a disaster.

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Last, the elementary schools.  The “Elem. Schools” data are averages of Richmond elementary schools.

On the reading tests, Ginter Park and Reid show some nice progress; Woodville and Oak Grove hint at progress; Blackwell sags. 

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Note that all of these performances are subpar, with Blackwell, Oak Grove, and Woodville all more than 25% below the accreditation cut line and Reid nearly that far down.

The writing data are a much happier picture, with Ginter Park, Oak Grove, Reid, and Woodville all outpacing the average and with GP, Oak Grove, and Reid now within accreditation territory.

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Note that the data end in 2015, when the test apparently was dropped.

In contrast, the history & social science scores are flat, with Ginter Park and Woodville declining.  All are below the Richmond average, albeit Blackwell, Ginter Park, and Oak Grove are very close to the 70% accreditation level.

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In math, Ginter Park and, especially, Reid showed nice gains; Woodville hinted at progress but remained in the dismal basement; Oak Grove showed early improvement; Blackwell rose and then sank farther.  Ginter Park has been well within the accreditation range for two years.

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In science, we again see good numbers from Ginter Park; Reid shows big gains; Oak Grove gains after a drop; Woodville drops and remains in the basement; and Blackwell again declines.  Only Ginter Park is above the accreditation cut level.

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What can we say in summary?

  • Priority Status has been a waste of money and effort at Alternative and Marshall.
  • In the middle schools, Binford has been a win; Henderson, a wash; King, a dismal failure.  .500 would be an exceptional batting average in the National League; here it is an earmark of failure and bureaucratic wheelspinning.
  • Among the elementary schools,
    • Blackwell was flat or down slightly, except for a gain in writing;
    • Reid was up nicely except flat in history & social science;
    • Ginter Park was up nicely except slightly down in history & social science;
    • Oak Grove was up in writing, flat elsewhere; and
    • Woodville was up in writing, down in history & social science and in science, with hints of gain in reading and math.

Is Priority Status a success? In places.

Is it a failure? In places.

Has it been worth the money and fanfare?  Probably not. 

If there is a way to fix our failing schools, especially the middle schools, VDOE either doesn’t know it or hasn’t deployed it.