Mystery at Munford

Having seen too much of the tragedy of Richmond’s worst schools, I thought I’d turn for a moment to Richmond’s best elementary school (at least as measured by the SOL pass rates).

On the 2018 all-subject average, Mary Munford Elementary is #203 from the top in the state. 

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The Munford pass rates this year were 89.45 in both reading and math.

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Turning to the pass rates by grade and subject, we see:

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That looks to be just fine until we notice the pattern.

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It would be unusual to see scores in the 86’s for both lower grades and some 8 points higher in grade 5 in either subject, much less in both.  It must be beyond coincidence that, as well, the reading and math scores are the same at each grade level and when averaged, either by grade or by student.

These numbers suggest that something is going on here.  They don’t say what it might be.

My spreadsheet has the other Richmond schools, and it goes back to 2013.  When I asked it to find identical reading and math pass rates, the result looked like this for the 3d Grade this year:

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The fourth grade was even more interesting:

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Let’s collect the whole batch and summarize the cases of identical reading and math pass rates by grade in the time frame of these data.

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If we run the same analysis by school (so the average is over all students, not by grade), the only hit is in 2018.

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Oak Grove got caught cheating in 2005.  Carver has been cheating since about 2014.  Recently, Carver, Ginter Park and, perhaps, Fisher have reported anomalously high pass rates for their disabled students. 

Cheating (by the school, not the students), done systematically, could easily produce equal pass rates in the two subjects.  Coincidence is most unlikely here.  No other explanation presents itself.

This suggests that our Superintendent may have a much larger problem than just Carver.

As well, this serves to remind us of the underlying, pervasive problem: The Board of “Education” found lots of data (especially student-specific data that they won’t share with the public) that told of the cheating at Carver.  Most telling, the cohort data showed that students with splendid scores at Carver mostly failed when they got to middle school. 

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(And recall that Hill is our best middle school, with a 2018 average reading pass rate of 72 and math, 69.)

The Board did not bother to look at those data, however, until after our Superintendent asked for an investigation.  We can be confident that this dereliction of their duty as to Carver is part of a general failure, probably ongoing, to even glance at those data for other schools.

98.2 million dollars of our tax money at “work.”