Pell and The Gray Lady

The estimable Jim Bacon points to a piece in the Gotham City Times regarding college funding and Pell grants.

Jim points out that, according to the Times, UVa and Tech are 2d and 3d from the bottom of the Times’ top twenty “top public universities” in terms of percentage of Pell grants.  As to some of those universities (Tech not so much; UVa not at all), the Times points to recent decreases in Pell percentages.

In fact, the Times has cherry picked the Pell data without showing any relationship to state-level college funding.  As to recent decreases in Pell numbers, the facts in context suggest otherwise.

For background, here are the 2016 median SAT verbal scores vs. Pell percentages of the Virginia 4-year public programs.

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UVa and Tech are nationally ranked because they admit smart kids.  Given that smarts correlate strongly but negatively with Pell percentage throughout the Virginia 4-year programs (we can argue about the reasons, but that’s not the issue here), it’s no surprise that those fine schools have low Pell percentages.

Those low numbers are not a problem unless one thinks that these schools should dilute their brands by admitting less qualified students.

As to the alleged trend in Pell percentages with decreasing state support, the Times looks only at 2016 and 2012, and fails to demonstrate any relationship with state funding. 

A more general view of the Pell numbers is more revealing.  To that end, here are the Pell percentages of the average and three selected Virginia 4-year programs, by year:

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The jumps in 2010 and –11 are statewide, and suggest that the selective schools were affected proportionately by the increases in Pell funding (see below).

(I’ve included Mary & Bill here because it belongs in any 4-year ranking that includes THE UNIVERSITY and Tech).

More to the point, it’s hard to see any large decreases there.  Indeed, in light of the Pell funding that has been decreasing in recent years, the surprise is the absence of large recent decreases in Virginia Pell percentages at these schools.

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The more interesting question here is why the poorer (and statistically less smart) kids graduate at lower rates, especially from the less selective schools. 

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I’ll bet you a #2 lead pencil that it has more to do with the quality of K-12 education, esp. in our cities, and the support – both financial and academic – those students receive than with state appropriations.

2016 Richmond Teacher Pay

Table 19 is up in the Superintendent’s Annual Report with the 2016 salary averages.

The statewide distribution graphs, below, show the count of divisions paying each salary, in $1,000 increments.  The Richmond average salary is marked in yellow on each graph; the state average is blue.

For elementary principals, Richmond’s $90,531 average was 0.40 standard deviation above the division average of $84,581. 

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(To read the graph, look across the bottom for average salary, rounded to the nearest $1,000 and up and down for number of schools.  Thus, one school paid $44,000.  Six schools, one of which was Richmond, paid $91,000.  Four schools paid the state average, $85,000.)

For secondary principals, Richmond’s $91,266 average was 0.10 standard deviation below the division average of $93,129.

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For Elementary Assistant Principals, Richmond’s $69,786 average was 0.17 standard deviation above the division average of 67,813.

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For secondary Assistant Principals, Richmond’s $71,342 average was 0.20 standard deviation below the division average of 73,734.

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For elementary teachers, Richmond’s $49,100 average was 0.19 standard deviation above the division average of $47,816.

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For secondary teachers, Richmond’s $51,201 average was 0.08 standard deviation above the division average of $50,563.

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Looks like we’re underpaying the leaders in our secondary schools.

Some details from the VDOE spreadsheet:

The average annual salaries for elementary and secondary teachers include supplemental salaries and wages (expenditure object 1620) as reported on the Annual School Report.

Teaching positions include classroom teachers, guidance counselors, librarians and technology instructors.

Jointly-operated school divisions (Fairfax City and Fairfax County; Emporia and Greensville County; and Williamsburg and James City County) report positions and average salaries on the annual school report of the fiscal agent division only. Fairfax County, Greensville County and Williamsburg are the fiscal agent divisions.

And a further note: The “division averages” reported above are the averages of the division averages in the VDOE spreadsheet.  VDOE reports the statewide averages; those generally are larger than the division averages, doubtless propelled by the large and very expensive NoVa divisions.

Final(?) Accreditation Results

Just a week ago, VDOE announced that the accreditation data for Bellevue, Franklin, and Patrick Henry had been recalculated and that the three schools were fully accredited. 

So we got to redo the Richmond reportAgain.

The latest data are here.  The totals disagree slightly with the table on the VDOE Web site; I’ll bet you a #2 lead pencil that they updated the spreadsheet but not the table.

In any case, here are the data.  On the revised count, we have 2.5% of the schools in Virginia, 17% of the 93 schools rated “Accreditation Denied,” and 8.4% of the 333 schools that were not fully accredited.

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Rating the Colleges, III

We’ve been looking at the 6-year graduation rates of the 2011 freshman cohort in Virginia’s four-year colleges.  SCHEV also provides SAT data for those students. 

Here are the median SAT scores for the 2011 entering class, sorted by the schools’ graduation rates.

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The graduation rates correlate strongly with those SAT scores.

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Recall, please, that correlation does not imply causation.

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BTW: This year’s medians at Longwood are 490 in both math and reading; the state averages are 513/516.  The current Richmond scores are in a different league.

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Ranking Virginia Colleges, II

We have seen some of the federal data on Virginia Colleges.  Those data were restricted to “federal financial aid recipients.” 

The SCHEV Web site has data on costs for full time resident undergraduates and cohort graduation rates.  Here are the six-year graduation rates of the 2011 cohort.

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Turned around, those data give us a measure of the error rates of the admission departments of those schools.

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Next, here are the graduation rates plotted against the costs for 2013-14 (school year selected to give a mid-course snapshot of the expenses facing the 2011 cohort).

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The colors are for the same schools as in the previous pair of graphs.

In contrast to the federal data, the SCHEV salary data are difficult to incorporate here (for me, at least), so I’ve calculated a simplified bang per buck ratio from the graduation rate divided by the cost (x100,000 to get results in the 0-10 range).

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Finally, here is the data table, sorted by graduation rate.

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Ranking Virginia Colleges

The USDOE has a Web page, it’s “College Scorecard,” with data on colleges and universities.

Here are the data for Virginia’s public colleges and universities, sorted by Bang/Buck:

  Avg. Cost Grad’n Rate Salary Bang/Buck
UVA  $  17,863 94%  $  60,100 3.2
W&M  $  17,194 90%  $  55,000 2.9
VMI  $  17,296 73%  $  59,200 2.5
VPI  $  19,691 83%  $  59,000 2.5
JMU  $  18,412 82%  $  52,600 2.3
GMU  $  18,738 67%  $  57,300 2.0
Mary Washington  $  20,595 73%  $  48,500 1.7
ODU  $  13,067 51%  $  42,500 1.7
Radford  $  16,560 59%  $  42,200 1.5
Longwood  $  18,457 65%  $  39,600 1.4
Chris. Newport  $  21,532 66%  $  42,500 1.3
VCU  $  20,723 58%  $  41,400 1.2
VSU  $  14,337 41%  $  33,800 1.0
Norfolk State  $  11,920 33%  $  33,100 0.9

Notes on the table:

  • Average Cost is “The average annual net price for federal financial aid recipients, after aid from the school, state, or federal government. For public schools, this is only the average cost for in-state students.”
  • Graduation Rate is “The graduation rate after six years for schools that award predominantly four-year degrees and after four years for all other schools. These rates are only for full-time students enrolled for the first time.”
  • Salary is “The median earnings of former students who received federal financial aid, at 10 years after entering the school.”
  • Bang per Buck value is calculated as (Salary*Graduation Rate)/(Avg. Cost).
  • The Web page does not tell us the year(s) of the data.  For sure, the salary data are for folks who graduated more than ten years ago.

Of course, Excel is glad to plot these data.  On the graphs below, UVA is the red diamond and W&M is the green.

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It’s Good to Stop Blaming the Victims

Back in 2015, our Superintendent fell into the old Richmond trap of blaming the kids for the lousy performance of our schools.  Well, to be fair, he just talked about the high rates of poverty, the large numbers of handicapped students, and our growing ESL population.  His meaning was clear, however.

To his credit, we haven’t heard much of that from him since then. 

As part of my project to learn (altogether too slowly, I think) to use Excel to examine the performance of our schools, I have revisited data that support such restraint. 

Let’s start with the pass rates of economically disadvantaged (“ED”) students in Richmond and statewide, compared with the non-ED population.  In these graphs, “No” indicates students who are not classified as economically disadvantaged, “Yes,” those who are.

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(Notice the score decreases from the new, tougher reading tests in 2013 and the new math tests a year earlier.)

We know that standardized test scores decrease with increasing ED, so it’s no surprise to see the ED scores lower than the non-ED, both in Richmond and statewide. 

To the point here, Richmond’s economically disadvantaged students are underperforming their peers statewide.  Likewise, our students who are not economically disadvantaged also are underperforming the state non-ED students.

(Hint: This suggests that poverty may not be the problem with the low test scores in Richmond.)

Next, the students with disabilities.

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Pretty much the same pattern.

Last, the immigrant (search for “limited English proficient”) students.

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Without dwelling on the data on the pre-2012 tests (and Richmond’s wholesale cheating there), we can extract a clear message: Economically disadvantaged or not, disabled or not, immigrant or not, Richmond’s students are underperforming their Virginia peers. 

You can choose your explanation: Either there is a stupidity virus that infects children’s brains inside the city limits or Richmond’s children are being afflicted by a lousy school system.  Actually, there’s only one explanation: That stupidity virus is the Richmond Public Schools.