Help for the Board of “Education”

Now that our Board of “Education” has demonstrated that it does not know how – more likely, does not wish – to inspect its database in order to detect official cheating to boost graduation rates, I thought I’d give them an easy place to start doing their job.

And give the Governor a list of places where the Board’s malfeasance probably has allowed school divisions to issue bogus diplomas wholesale.

Brief background:

  • The End of Course (“EOC”) SOL tests are the gateway to graduation; to earn a standard diploma, a student must pass two English EOC tests, one math, one history & social science, and one lab science.
  • On average, the pass rates of Economically Disadvantaged students (“ED”) on the EOC tests is about 17% less than the rate of their more affluent (“Not ED”) peers; consistent with that, ED students graduate at about a 6% lower rate than Not ED.
  • Richmond’s ED students in 2018 passed the reading and math EOC tests at a rate 13% lower than the Not ED students but, as a result of wholesale cheating (by the schools, not the students!), the ED cohort graduation rate was 7.5% higher than the Not ED rate.
  • The Board of “Education” did not notice this discrepancy (nor similar warnings in the data from earlier years).

Let’s start with a plot of the 2018 division average differences between the ED and Not ED graduation rates against the difference in EOC reading pass rates.

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The state average is the red circle showing an ED pass rate 15.6% below the Not ED rate and an ED graduation rate 6.0% below.

Richmond, the gold square, is up in the anomalous zone, with an unexceptional pass rate difference but with an ED graduation rate 7.5% higher than the Not ED rate.  We now know that the reason for that anomaly is wholesale cheating.  By the schools.

As a courtesy to my readers there, the blue diamond on the graph is Lynchburg; the green, Charles City.

BTW: The points over to the right side of the Y-axis are divisions where the ED students passed at higher rates than the Not ED.  If the Board of “Education” elects to start doing its job, it should also look at those divisions to see whether they are messing with the classification of handicapped students or otherwise manipulating the data.

The math data paint a similar picture.

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Let’s take a closer look at the divisions that joined Richmond in the group with anomalously high ED graduation rates.  (That’s not to say that some of these other data are not abnormal.  I’m just going for the obvious cases.)

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The math data again tell much the same story.

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Small populations can lead to large variability in averages so these data, standing alone, don’t say much about the smaller divisions.  But, for sure, the data wave a large, red flag over the ED graduation rates from Norfolk, Newport News, Va. Beach, Portsmouth, Arlington, Roanoke, and Lynchburg.

But don’t hold your breath waiting for the Board of “Education” to look behind those numbers.