Trends at MLK

In terms of the five-subject average SOL pass rate, Richmond’s Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School is the second worst school in Virginia.

In terms of the school average, the reading pass rate this year increased 6.76 points to 31.6% (that is, 68.4% of the students flunked the test); the math average rose 0.51 to 21.9% (a 78.1% failure rate).

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If we use the least squares fitted lines to extrapolate, the reading pass rate reaches the (former) 75% accreditation benchmark in 92 years (2110).  The fitted line to the math rate data has a negative slope; it never reaches the math benchmark, 70%.

The sixth grade reading rate improved from 24.6 to 31.6. 

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The extrapolation reaches the benchmark in 36 years.

The seventh grade reading pass rate rose to 32.7; the data extrapolate to reach 75 in 159 years (161 years if you don’t round up).

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The fitted line for the eighth grade data has a negative slope; it never reaches the benchmark.  The 12.2 point increase this year still left a 69.9% failure rate.

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On the sixth grade math tests, the scores dropped below 30% this year.  The line fitted to the data has a negative slope.

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The seventh grade math pass rate increased by 2.65 points this year, but left an 89.7% failure rate.  The fitted line, yet again, has a negative slope.

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The eighth grade math score, at 18.9 this year, is lower than last year’s 21.0, and the fitted line again has a negative (this time a large negative) slope.

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This is a picture of profound failure. 

It may well be that these scores are being depressed by cheating in the elementary schools (by the schools, not the kids) but that merely moves the location of (part of) the problem: RPS is failing, miserably, and is damaging children it is supposed to be educating. 

What Happened at Fairfield Court?

Fairfield Court dropped off an SOL cliff this year, from a (suspiciously good) 76 in reading to a disastrous 38 and from 77 to 30 in math.

Data from the past suggest that the school (not the students, mind you, the school) may have been cheating with its disabled students.  You may think of anomalous disabled pass rates as the canary in the cheating machine.

The data this year show that the Fairfield disabled pass rates shared the plunge but that they remain unusually high vis-à-vis the non-disabled.

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It’s an interesting puzzle why Carver continued cheating this year but Fairfield went (at least mostly) honest.  These data do not suggest an answer.

In any case, the Richmond disabled rates also remain suspiciously high, vis-à-vis the not disabled rates.

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Of course, the State Board of “Education” will continue to ignore this issue.  We can hope our new Superintendent will not want this kind of thing to fester during his tenure.

Mixed News at Holton

Overall, Holton dropped a point on both the reading and math SOLs this year.  The data by subject and grade paint a more nuanced picture.

The reading data suggest a problem in the fourth grade but otherwise look pretty good.

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For what it may be worth, I’ve asked Excel to fit a straight line to each dataset to suggest the trend in the pass rates.  In that sense, Holton is showing progress in reading, notwithstanding the 4th grade blip this year.

The math data also suggest an issue in the 4th grade.

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The Good News is that Holton is flirting with the state average in reading.  The not so good, that the school is handily beating the Richmond average in math, albeit at a rate still below the 70% accreditation benchmark.

Trouble in Paradise: SOL Disaster at Our Neighborhood School

The 2018 SOL pass rates provide some bad news for our neighborhood (and help explain why there’s a new principal at Westover Hills).

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You know you’ve got reading problems when the best news is a 48.15% pass rate (in the fourth grade).

But the math pass rates are even worse.

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You read that correctly: 23.08% pass rate in 3d grade math, 21.21% in 5th grade.

For reference: The accreditation benchmark for reading is 75; for math, 70.

Peak Performers

Here are the thirty schools with the highest average 2018 pass rates in each of the five subject areas, along with the highest average of the five pass rates.  Richmond schools are highlighted.

Note: Maggie Walker would surely be near the top of all these lists except that the Board of “Education” says Walker is a “program,” not a “school.”  That is their way of giving the Walker students’ scores to high schools that those students do not attend in the students home neighborhoods.  Unfortunately, this is just a small example of VBOE mendacity.

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Petersburg: Paradigm of VBOE Incompetence

The Petersburg schools have been operating under Memoranda of Understanding (“MOUs”) of the Board of “Education” since at least 2004.

The current MOU and associated “Plan” are long on inputs but they fail to measure or demand adequate outputs.  As to the purpose of any school (learning!), there is no plan and no accountability. 

In light of this fecklessness, it cannot be surprising that the fourteen year history of Board of “Education” dealings with Petersburg is a tale of unremitting failure.

Data

I have asked Petersburg for clarification of the recent SOL data but have received no response.  So we’ll have to try to figure things out from the public record.

Note added on 8/26:  I sent the P’Burg inquiry to the wrong email address.  The estimable Leigh Ann McKelway saw the post and today sent the following:

The last year Peabody Middle was open was 2016-17. In 2017-18 we moved the middle school to the building that previously was named Vernon Johns Junior High and we renamed it Vernon Johns Middle.

Vernon Johns Junior High’s last year was 2015-16 (I think). During the 2016-17 school year, the Vernon Johns building was empty.

To start, here are the reading pass rates since the deployment of the new tests in 2013:

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The 2017 datum for A.P. Hill is missing because the school was caught cheating that year. 

Peabody Middle data are missing for 2018; Vernon Johns Junior data are missing for 2017 and ‘18; Vernon Johns Middle data start in 2018.  The current directory of Petersburg schools lists only one middle school, Johns Middle.  It looks like Peabody and Johns Junior have been merged into Johns Middle.  No telling about the 2017 data for Johns Junior.

(BTW: The first three elementary schools in this list have now been renamed to deConfederatize them; it looks like Walnut Hill got caught up in the process.  All four elementary school names in these data will be obsolete next year.)

Here are those data on a graph.

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Notice the (temporary) benefits of cheating at Hill (the red line).  And notice the bottom-of-the-barrel pass rate there once they had to test honestly.

And notice that very nearly half of the students tested at Lee, Johns Middle, and Hill failed this year.

Except for the high school in 2013, Walnut Hill in 2016 and ‘17, and Hill before it got caught, none of these data meets the 75% benchmark for English accreditation.  Even more to the point, there’s no indication here of improvement in these ninth through fourteenth years of state oversight.

The math data paint a similar picture.

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The high school enjoyed two years above the 70% accreditation benchmark; Walnut Hill managed four but is headed in the wrong direction.  All the others were, and are, mired in failure with no sign of improvement.

Indeed, more than half of the students tested at Hill, Lee, and Johns Middle flunked the tests.

As to Petersburg, the Board of “Education” has failed, miserably and at length, to discharge its duty of “general supervision of the public school system.”

Discussion

Please visit this page for a discussion of the several reasons that the MOU process is a terrible idea, both as to strategy and tactics.  Those concerns aside, the data above demonstrate that the process has been a wordy and persistent failure as to Petersburg.

The Board of “Education” can sue to compel compliance with the Standards of Quality.  They have not done so.  They have instead persisted with this failed process that they know does not work.

There is a simple explanation for all this counterproductive behavior:

If it were to sue, the Board would have to tell the judge what Petersburg must do to fix the schools.  The Board cannot do this because it does not know (Sept. 21, 2016 video starting at 1:48) how to fix those schools.  That is, the Board knows it would be futile to sue (and even more embarrassing than its present failure).

So now the Board has brought the same disruptive, expensive, and futile process to Richmond with, in this first year, the inevitable absence of any measurable benefit to the students.

Forty point six million of your tax dollars at “work.”

The Good, the Excellent, and the Awful

Having looked at Richmond’s peer jurisdictions, let’s turn to our neighbors.

Here, to start, are the reading pass rates by year for the state, some neighboring Counties, and poor Petersburg.

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It’s instructive to look at the 2012-13 drops that followed the introduction of the new, tougher reading tests.

  • State            -14.2
  • Hanover       -9.6
  • Richmond    -29.1

As of this year, Richmond abided at 20.2 points below the state average.

In terms of raw counts, Richmond this year had 1.75% of the Virginia students taking the reading tests and 3.43% of the students who failed those tests.

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The math data paint a similar picture.

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Likewise, the 2011-2012 score drops with the new math tests:

  • State             -18.0
  • Hanover        -13.6
  • Richmond     -28.4

On the 2018 math data, Richmond was 25.1 points below the state average.  It had 1.72% of the students taking the math tests and 3.63% of the students failing those tests.

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The data for the other three subjects tell much the same story.

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As you see, the adjacent Counties and Hanover continue to provide safe harbors for the Richmond parents who move there when their children approach school age.

I’ll devote a later post to Petersburg and the colossal incompetence of the Board of “Education” that has had Petersburg operating under its supervision since at least 2004.

For now, I’ll just point out that the state’s intervention in Richmond this year has paid no dividends for the children who suffer under the Richmond system’s incompetence. 

Division SOL by Year

Here are the division SOL pass rates by year, going back to the start of the database, for Richmond, the peer cities, and the state.  I’ve included Charles City and Lynchburg as a thank-you to my readers there.

First, reading:

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The new, tougher English tests in 2013 produced those decreases.  Richmond was 9.7 points below the state average in ‘12 and fell to –24.6 in ‘13; as of this year, it remains 20.2 points low.

Next, math.

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The new math tests came in 2012.  The new tests took Richmond from –10.5 to –20.9 v. the state.  Richmond recovered some but then languished to the current –25.1.

Next, the other three subject areas.

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Finally, the average of the five averages:

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On this average, Richmond is 23.4 points below the state this year.

2018 SOLs by School

Here are Richmond’s 2018 SOL Pass Rates by subject and school, along with the 2017 rates for reference.

First the elementary schools.

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Recall that the (former) accreditation benchmarks were 75 in English and 70 for the other subjects.

Next the middle schools.  (Note the scale change for the first three graphs).

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And the high schools.

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Again, notice the scale change.  As well, the “0” entries here and below are error indicators, probably because the data have been suppressed.

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And, finally, the combined schools.

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