Blaming the Kids for Richmond’s Incompetence

Parsing out the distributions of student groups in the RPS population leads me back to Richmond’s excuses.

In an article from March of this year, the RT-D quoted our Superintendent embracing the old party line: The district has an overwhelming number of children living in poverty, with special needs, and who speak English as a second language. 

Like so many official statements, that one is partially true and vastly misleading.

As to the true: Richmond has unusually large populations of poor students and handicapped students.  As to not so true: We are slightly under the state average as to students with native languages other than English.

Here are the fall enrollments (“ADMs” in bureaucrat speak):

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Note on the abbreviated euphemisms: ED = economically disadvantaged; Disab = disabled; LEP = limited English proficiency.

Expressing the group totals as percentages of the total enrollment:

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No telling what those 2007-09 ED numbers mean; probably a reporting issue.

In any case, Richmond’s economically disadvantaged and disabled percentages are almost twice the state average.  However, a glance at the VDOE database suggests that the Super’s implication (that these distressed populations are harming Richmond’s performance) is not at all true.

To begin the analysis, here are the five-subject average pass rates for Richmond’s students not in a subgroup.  These students underperformed their peers statewide:

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Richmond’s disabled students performed at about the level of their peer group until last year.  No telling how much of that was because Richmond was cheating on the VGLA.

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Our poor students consistently have underperformed their peer group.

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And our kids from families where English is not the native language have performed miserably, both on an absolute scale and when compared to other LEP students statewide.

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So, as of 2015, all of these groups (and the kids not in any of the groups) in Richmond have turned in lower scores than their statewide peers. 

We can draw one of two conclusions:

  1. The disabled, ED, and LEP Richmond students, and the students not in one of these groups, all are dumber than their peers in the other divisions; or
  2. Richmond is doing a lousy job (and making lousy excuses).

We don’t even need William of Occam to make that choice.