SGP IV – Rating the Teachers: Math

We have seen that the new SGP dataset shows a precipitous drop in the quality of instruction in math in the sixth grade in the Richmond public schools.

The by-teacher averages add some context to that situation.  Let’s start with the fifth grade math distribution for the state:


And for the City:


The Richmond average is slightly below the state average.  In both cases, the fairly large standard deviation reflects the relatively large numbers of very good and very poor performers.

Next the sixth grade math data, starting with the state distribution:


Then Richmond:


(Note that, with this relatively small dataset, the average SGP by student, 24.2, is not the same, and is not necessarily the same, as the average by teacher, 20.9)

The Richmond average is 1.75 standard deviations below the state average.  Four of eighteen Richmond math teachers are more than two standard deviations below the state average.  Only one is above the state average.

The 7th grade math results are less awful but still unacceptable: 


The eighth grade math results are below average, but less horrible than the data for the previous two grades:


Of course, we’ve long known that the SOL scores of Richmond’s middle schools were a disaster. 


The SOL scores (data again from 2014) decrease with increasing economic disadvantage. 


(Richmond is the gold square.)

In contrast, the SGP scores measure improvement compared to similarly situated students and are largely independent of family wealth.  The Colorado data are widely quoted on this point:

image_thumb4 image_thumb5

The SGP data confound the traditional excuse that too many of Richmond’s students are from economically disadvantaged homes.  Thus, Richmond no longer can blame the students for the miserable performance of its schools, especially the middle schools.  The problem is (some of) the teachers, (most of) the schools, and the administration, not the students. 

Rant Begins:

Offsetting that important progress in evaluating the schools, VDOE is refusing to release the identities of the under- (AND over-) performing teachers.  They claim that those records of academic improvement (or lack thereof) in particular classrooms in public schools, financed by public money, are “personnel records,” never mind that the personnel in question are not VDOE employees. 

Whether these data as to particular teachers are “personnel records” under the Freedom of Information Act is a question for the Judge.  In any case, VDOE has the discretion to disclose the records. 

At present, parents take their kids’ teachers willy nilly.  VDOE now has data in some cases to tell those parents whether the teachers are effective.  Yet VDOE thinks the “privacy” of those public employees is more important than informing the public about those employees’ performance.  VDOE’s refusal to share those important data that have been bought with taxpayer dollars is an abiding and outrageous insult to Virginia’s taxpayers.

Until someone comes up with a catchy acronym, I will call the gang of secretive bureaucrats at VDOE the State Department of Data Suppression.  The name may not be catchy but it surely is accurate. 

(And the abbreviation, SDDS, is a palindrome!)

Your tax dollars at “work.”