Put ‘Em On a Bus to West Point

We have seen that school divisions with higher poverty rates score less well on the SOLs.  For example, looking at the 2015 reading pass rates by division v. the percentage of students classified as economically disadvantaged, we see:


We also have seen that spending more money per student does not correlate with higher pass rates.  For instance:


Note: The data here are 2014 disbursements (the 2015 data won’t be available until sometime this Spring), with disbursements for facilities, debt service, and contingency reserve removed.

To remove the effect of economic disadvantage, we use the fitted trendline for the first graph to normalize the scores (i.e., express the pass rates as percentages of the trendline rates).  That produces the following graph for the reading tests.


It turns out that the pass rates fail to correlate with expenditures per student.

BTW: Richmond is the gold square on the graph; the red diamonds are, from the left, Hampton, Newport News, and Norfolk.  The yellow diamond outperforming divisions are, from the left, Norton, Wise, West Point, and Highland.

Here is the same graph for the math tests:


The gold square again is Richmond; the red diamonds again are Hampton, Newport News, and Norfolk.  The yellow diamonds are Wise, West Point, and Highland.

Again, with the average effect of poverty removed, something other than money explains the differences in  performance of the divisions.   Whatever that “something” is, Richmond does not know it, or at least does not practice it.

To me, these data suggest that we should put the Richmond Superintendent and School Board on a bus and send them to Wise and West Point for a week each.  And tell them to stop whining about money.  Whatever the solution to our (HUGE) problem may be, it does not come with a dollar sign.