Middle Schools in Context

For the Richmond middle schools, the 2019 SOL pass rates range from encouraging to appalling, mostly the latter.

To start, here are the rates on the 6th grade reading test. “ED” indicates “economically disadvantaged” students. “Not ED” are the more affluent peers. I’ve highlighted the Richmond data: green for Not ED and red for ED.

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Notes:

  • Pass rates on the SOL tests generally are ca. 15 to 20 points lower for ED than for Not ED students. The reported SOL pass rates are are averages over all students so that schools and divisions with larger proportions of ED students generally have lower reported pass rates. This reporting system thus unfairly rewards the more affluent schools and divisions and penalizes the poorer ones. By examining both the ED and Not ED results, we can avoid that problem.
  • Some of the very high and low %ED schools run into the suppression rule: VDOE suppresses the report where there are <10 students in a group. Data for those cases are missing from the database and, thus, from these graphs.

To focus on the Richmond schools, let’s hide the statewide data but keep the fitted lines that tell us about the state averages. And, FWIW, the purple line below is the nominal level for accreditation. But recall that VDOE “adjusts” the pass rates in order to accredit many schools that come nowhere near that threshold.

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Notice the changed range on the x-axis.

Franklin, a selective school, is the winner here. Among the Not ED rates of the mainstream middle schools, Hill beats the state average, Binford flirts with it, and Brown is low (and below the accreditation threshold). Everything else, ED and Not ED, is below, mostly far below, the state average for ED students. Henderson is missing, courtesy of the suppression rule. Their ED pass rate is 48%. The Boushall ED and Not ED rates are inverted, as are the Elkhardt-Thompson, albeit less dramatically.

Turning to the 7th grade:

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MLK is victim of the suppression rule; the ED pass rate there is 25%. Franklin makes a less splendid (but still above average) showing. For Boushall, the usual ED/Not ED order is inverted again. Richmond, again, overpopulates the cellar.

Eighth grade reading:

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Franklin is back in the saddle here. MLK rises above the suppression rule, but its news is hardly good. The Boushall Not ED rate again is below the ED; something unusual looks to be going on there.

The new math tests in 2019 raised pass rates statewide by 3.4% for Not ED students, 6.6% for ED. Notice the elevated fitted lines here. That dilution of the tests did little for Richmond.

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MLK and Henderson are caught by the suppression rule. MLK’s 27% ED rate, Henderson’s 37%, and too much of the other Richmond data again help define the bottom of the barrel. The Boushall rates again are inverted.

Next, the seventh grade.

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Franklin makes its worst showing here. Henderson and MLK again have too few Not ED students to get past the suppression rule; their ED rates are 22% and 14%. Binford takes a hit. The Boushall numbers again are inverted.

Eighth grade math:

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Henderson is suppressed; it’s ED rate is 61%. The ED and Not ED rates are inverted at MLK and Elkhardt-Thompson. Perhaps this reflects the natural fluctuation to be expected with very small numbers of Not ED students at MLK (25 Not ED students tested) but that looks less likely at E-T (49 Not ED students).

The bottom line: Except for Franklin and for Not ED students at Hill and (mostly) at Binford, Richmond’s middle schools are a disgrace to the community and a threat to our children.