Just Carver?

The RT-D this morning reports: “Frustrated with the fallout of a cheating ring at a Richmond elementary [Carver], members of the city’s School Board on Monday pushed for more support for the school.”

That’s overdue, of course. But what about Fairfield Court, where they almost certainly were cheating and where the scores are even lower? And while we’re counting, how about MLK, where there’s no indication of cheating, just abiding, appalling failure?

image

Not Just Carver?

We have seen the pattern at Carver: Astounding pass rates followed by appalling pass rates.

At Carver, the plunge came after some of the staff there got caught cheating. There has not been an investigation at Fairfield Court (at least not that we know of) but the similar pattern there suggests there should be one.

image image

Notes: “ED” indicates economically disadvantaged; “Not ED” denotes the more affluent peers. Both schools have very large percentages of ED students with, accordingly, low percentages of Not ED; the missing blue bars in the graphs are cases where the VDOE suppression rules blocked posting of the Not ED data. The red lines are the nominal accreditation benchmarks.

The other subjects tell much the same story.

image image

image  image

image image

It looks like there need to be some firings at Fairfield Court beyond the replacement of the principal this spring. In any case, there is something terribly wrong there and the students, parents, and taxpayers are entitled to know what it is. Even more to the point, these data raise the question what RPS will be doing to help the middle school students whose “education” at Fairfield Court left them unprepared for what came next.

Geography of Achievement (or Not)

On average, economically disadvantaged (“ED”) students pass the SOL tests at a rate about 20% lower than their more affluent peers (“Not ED”). Thus, the SOL averages punish the divisions with larger populations of ED students by averaging in larger numbers of lower scores.

To avoid that, we can look separately at the ED and Not ED pass rates.

To get a picture of the geography of the pass rates, I’ve turned to Excel’s “filled map” feature. To start, here is that map of the division average reading pass rates of Not ED students.

image

The orange county is Halifax, which was hit by the VDOE data suppression rule. The orange dot is Williamsburg, which the program does not include in the reported “Williamsburg-James City County.”

Here is the same map for the ED reading pass rates.

image

The colors make an interesting point: Compared to their peers, not ED students score well ‘most everywhere; ED students, only in a few places, even though compared only to other ED students.  Then, there’s that interesting collection of high scores in SW Virginia for both groups.

The math data paint a rosier picture.

image

image

Richmond, of course, is that large, magenta blob sandwiched between two greener (but for the ED students, not very green) counties.

Carver!

The 2019 data for Carver were missing from the database when VDOE posted on Tuesday. They fixed that Thursday afternoon.

Because of the cheating by the Principal and some of the teachers, there are no Carver data for 2018. As well, because of the very large population of economically disadvantaged students (“ED”), the suppression rules frequently operate as to the data for the more affluent (“Not ED”) students. That leads to some funny looking graphs, but here goes anyhow:

image

The pattern is clear: Excellent, but bogus, pass rates before 2018; dismal, but believable, rates in 2019.

The red line is the nominal benchmark for accreditation.

(In retrospect, it looks to me like our former Superintendent knew, or at least suspected, that the Carver numbers were bogus but elected to enjoy them anyhow.)

The History & Social Science data tell an even more terrible story as to the ED students.

image

The math pattern is similar and includes another Not ED datum for 2019.

image

The science data hark back to History & Social Science.

image

These data imply:

  • The fifth grade students of 2018 are now in middle school and are grossly unprepared to do the work there;
  • The fifth grade students of at least three earlier years went to middle school grossly unprepared to do the work there.
  • After a year under an honest (we hope!) regime at Carver, the fifth grade students of 2019 will enter middle school this fall grossly unprepared to do the work there;
  • The General Assembly did not do its job.

As to that last point, Va. Code § 22.1-292.1 provides, in part:

§ 22.1-292.1. Violations related to secure mandatory tests.
A. The Board of Education may (i) issue written reprimand to or (ii) suspend or revoke the administrative or teaching license of any holder of a Board-issued administrative or teaching license who knowingly and willfully commits any of the following acts related to secure mandatory tests administered to students as required by this title or by the Board of Education:
1. Giving unauthorized access to secure test questions;
2. Copying or reproducing all or any portion of any secure test booklet;
3. Divulging the contents of any portion of a secure test;
4. Coaching or assisting examinees during testing or altering test materials or examinees’ responses in any way;
5. Making available any answer keys;
6. Failing to follow test security procedures established by the Department of Education;
7. Providing a false certification on any test security form required by the Department of Education;
8. Retaining a copy of secure test questions;
9. Excluding students from testing who are required to be assessed; and
10. Participating in, directing, aiding, assisting in, or encouraging any of the acts prohibited by this section.

Va. Code § 22.1-292 provides:

§ 22.1-292. Penalties on officers and teachers.
Any division superintendent, member of a school board or other school officer or any principal or teacher in a public school violating any provision of this title shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor if no other penalty is prescribed.

There is room to argue that the testing violations of § 292.1 are not covered by the penalty provisions of § 292. In any case, the maximum penalty for a Class 4 misdemeanor is a fine of $250(!). The principal and teachers who supervised and participated in this assault on the students at Carver belong in jail. Or at least in stocks with baskets of tomatoes furnished to the parents of those students and to the honest teachers of Richmond whose reputations have been smeared by this outrage.

Good News at Westover Hills?

Our neighborhood elementary school, Westover Hills, enjoys a fair level of community support. The principal there was popular but she was replaced just a year ago, probably in light of the SOL results.

In just one year, the new principal looks to have had a dramatic effect.

Note: Statewide, economically disadvantaged (“ED”) students pass the SOL tests at a rate about 20% lower than their more affluent peers (“Not ED”). At a school such as Westover Hills the very large population of ED students quite naturally leads to lower average SOL pass rates. To look beneath that, the graphs below show the rates for both ED and Not ED students.

The reading tests showed a nice bounce this year.

image

Although even the 2019 Not ED pass rate is below the nominal 75% threshold for accreditation (and the ED rate, naturally, is still lower), the increases are a hopeful sign.

Note: Here and below, there is no ED datum for 2014. I can only graph what the database gives me. As well, the missing Not ED data below probably reflect the suppression rule that requires VDOE to withhold the data when a group is fewer than ten (or sometimes twenty) students.

The History & Social Science data are not so encouraging.

image

Notice the anomaly: In ‘17 & ‘18, the ED students outscored the Not ED.

The math and science numbers show promise.

image

image

Also see the data here.

Here’s hoping these improvements are real and are harbingers of gains to come.

Feckless “Supervision” of Petersburg

Despite fifteen years of “supervision” by the Board and Department of Education, the Petersburg schools marinate in failure.

Va. Code § 22.1-8 provides: “The general supervision of the public school system shall be vested in the Board of Education.”

Va. Code § 22.1-253.13:8 provides:

The Board of Education shall have authority to seek school division compliance with the foregoing Standards of Quality. When the Board of Education determines that a school division has failed or refused, and continues to fail or refuse, to comply with any such Standard, the Board may petition the circuit court having jurisdiction in the school division to mandate or otherwise enforce compliance with such standard, including the development or implementation of any required corrective action plan that a local school board has failed or refused to develop or implement in a timely manner.

The agenda package for the October, 2018 meeting of the Board of Education contains a summary of the “supervision” the Board has provided to Petersburg:

image

“MOU” is bureaucratese for “Memorandum of Understanding,” which in turn is bureaucratese for an edict to which the Board can point in order to claim it is doing something about lousy schools. In the Real World, the Board’s MOUs are feckless nonsense.

The 2019 SOL data now are out; they add a fifteenth year to the span of the Board’s sterile attempts to improve the Petersburg schools.

Aside: On average, Virginia’s economically disadvantaged (“ED”) students underperform their more affluent peers (“Not ED”) by about 20%. The SOL average pass rate thus is lowered for the divisions with larger ED populations. To avoid the Biased SOL average, let’s look at the underlying averages for the ED and Not ED groups.

To start, here are the reading pass rates:

image

Until 2017, Petersburg’s Not ED pass rate was slightly above the state average ED rate. Then the Petersburg rate dropped.

At all times on this graph, Petersburg’s stronger group was well below the nominal benchmark for accreditation in English, the red line on the graph. The ED average was flirting with the 50% level.

Both Petersburg groups slid this year: The 2019 Petersburg Not ED average was 5.3 points below the state ED average; the Petersburg ED average dropped to 49.8%. Said otherwise, 40.5% of Petersburg’s Not Ed students and half the ED students flunked the 2019 reading SOL. 

Petersburg’s “progress” on the writing tests has been even less edifying.

image

Likewise, History.

image

On the math tests, the raw data suggest that Petersburg improved a bit this year.

image

That impression fades when we notice that the 2019 math tests were new and the relaxed scoring boosted the state Not ED average by 3.4% and the ED by 6.6% over the 2018 pass rates. In light of those increases, Petersburg’s increases of 2.0 and 3.4%, respectively, are, in fact, decreases.

Finally, science, where Petersburg again reached toward lower pass rates.

image

Despite fifteen years of “supervision” from the Board and Department of Education, Petersburg wallows in failure.  The Board has yet to sue any school division, much less Petersburg, under the authority of § 22.1-253.13:8.

Isn’t it long past time for the Board of Education and the senior bureaucrats at the Department to be directed to employment that is better suited to their talents?

2019 SOLs: Tops of the Lists

To clear the palate after that last post, here are the 25 Virginia schools with the highest pass rates in Reading and Math for the students who are and are not economically disadvantaged.

image

image

image

image

You’ll notice Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a Governor’s School, at 100% on all four lists. You won’t see Maggie Walker anywhere in the database, albeit the pass rates there would also put it on all four of these lists. Walker also is a Governor’s School, with a four-year program; it issues diplomas to its graduates. But VDOE does not report the SOL scores of the Walker students; those scores go, instead, to artificially inflate the scores of the high schools in the home districts of the Walker students.

2019 v. 2018

Statewide, economically disadvantaged (“ED”) students underperform their more affluent peers (“Not ED”) by passing the SOL tests at about a 20% lower rate. Thus, the average SOL is an unfair measure that punishes the divisions with large ED populations (e.g., Richmond, which is about 2/3 ED). So we’ve been looking at the 2019 SOL data separately for the ED and Not ED populations, not for the misleading average.

In that vein, here are the 2019 Reading pass rates for the Not ED students in Richmond’s elementary schools (the blue bars). The yellow bars show the changes from 2018.

image

The change at Barack Obama is calculated from the 2018 datum at JEB Stuart.

The “0.0” entries at Fairfield Court and Miles Jones indicate cases where the Not ED population was so small (<10) that VDOE suppressed the data. One particularly happy note is the 20.6 point gain at my neighborhood school, Westover Hills.

The RT-D reports that Carver, after the cheating scandal, plummeted to second-worst in Richmond this year. The database, however, reports as  to Carver, “There is [sic] no data for this report.”

image

(I’m glad my old Latin teacher did not live to see that assault on the language from the Department of “Education.”)

Turning to the pass rates of the ED students, we see (still without a Carver entry):

image

The Good News there is Swansboro and, again, Westover Hills.

The Bad News starts with Southampton, on of our better elementary schools, and Munford, our very best as measured by the SOL average. The very small ED population at Munford leaves the school with bragging rights on average but with some explaining to do regarding its plunging ED performance, especially v. Cary.

Turning to our awful middle schools, again on the reading tests for Not ED students, we see a twinkle of sunshine at Elkhardt Thompson but compounded disasters at Henderson, MLK, and Boushall.

image

As to the ED students, Elkhardt Thompson again shows a small gain while all the others slip further into the mire of failure.

image

I’ve included Franklin in the high school data although it serves both middle and high school grades. Franklin joins all the comprehensive high schools in losing ground on the reading tests as to its Not ED students.

image

As to the ED students, Franklin reversed course while Huguenot and TJ showed large drops.

image

Turning to the math data, and recalling that the new tests and scoring boosted the Not ED pass rate average by 3.4% and the ED by 6.6%, here are the Richmond elementary schools.

image

Notice the expanded axis to accommodate the large gains at Ginter Park, Overby-Sheppard, and Westover Hills (with some lesser, but still very nice gains elsewhere). We’ll fervently hope these gains are genuine. Please notice that the scale applies ONLY to the blue bars.

A number of our elementary schools beat the +6.6% average gain for ED students; a number did not. (Go, Westover Hills!)

image

The middle school data offer slivers of hope and buckets of despair.

image

image

For the high schools, the axis again expands to accommodate large gains (Franklin and Community); again, the numbers on that axis apply only to the blue bars.

image

image

Stay tuned for a look at the best and worst schools in the state.