Middle School Muddle

We have seen that Richmond’s middle schools have underperformed, particularly since the new math tests in 2012 and the new English tests in 2013.  For instance:

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Or, in terms of the individual middle schools (here, the 6th grade pass rates):

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Note: To achieve some level of clutter control, I’ve left out Chandler, which closed in 2010.  I’ve also omitted Elkhardt and Thompson, which merged to become Elkhardt-Thompson in 2016.

Looking just at the average pass rates for transitional grades 5 and 6 we see:

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We know that at least some of the Richmond difference between the elementary and middle school grades can be explained by cheating in the elementary schools (by the schools, not by the students).  Doubtless the absence of the bogus Carver scores from the 2018 data helps explain Richmond’s Grade 5 drop that year.

The math data show much the same picture.

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We can get a more nuanced view by comparing the 6th grade scores with the rates from the fifth grade a year earlier.  This gives a measure (not a cohort analysis, but the best we can do with the public data) of the progress of the class as it goes from elementary to middle school.

For example, Richmond’s 56.25 reading pass rate in 2018 is 13.36 points below the fifth grade’s 69.61 in 2017.  A graph gives us the history.

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The dips in 2013 reflect the score drops with the new tests.  Then both Richmond and the state averages recovered, albeit Richmond to a much larger gap.  In an ideal world, both graphs would level off at zero.

To the point here, the state average these days shows a small drop in pass rate going from elementary to middle school while the Richmond decrease ranges from 9.6 to 16.7 points larger.

On the math tests, the state average 6th Grade rates are higher than the 5th, probably indicating that the new 6th grade test is the easier.  As well, the state recovery from the new tests was much more robust.

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But Richmond remains 17.9 points down this year, even after the Carver cheating bonus has been removed.

There is little hope that the Board of “Education” will be looking in to this.  That Board did not bother to look at the data that nailed the Carver cheating until after our Superintendent asked for an investigation.  That dereliction of their duty as to Carver was part of a general failure, probably ongoing, to even glance at the data, much less to investigate the discrepancy.

Thus, we’ll have to depend on how vigorously our new Superintendent roots out the other (alleged) elementary school cheating.  If he does his job, the 2019 data may give a clearer picture of whether the current underperformance of Richmond’s middle schools reflects middle school incompetence or widespread elementary school cheating (or, Heaven forefend it, both).