Continuing the analysis of the third set of SGP data from VDOE (with the same caveats mentioned earlier), here are the 2014 division average math and Algebra I scores.

As before, Richmond is the yellow bar, Petersburg is red, Hampton is green, and Norfolk is blue.

Grade 4 math:

Grade 5 math:

As with the reading scores, Richmond is doing fairly well with math in grades 4 and 5. Then then comes Grade 6 math where Richmond drops to next-to-last place:

Grade 7 math:

Grade 8 math:

Algebra I:

As with the reading scores, the Richmond math scores plummet when the students enter middle school. Yet the state averages remain nearly flat (as they nearly should; if VDOE were not manipulating the data, the state average should be entirely flat at 50 on every test).

Something uniquely ugly happens in the sixth grade in Richmond.

I asked the formidable Carol Wolf:

What’s going on with the 6th grade? Richmond’s [SGP] scores in both reading and math fall into a pit from fifth to 6th grade. I’m looking at data that show that NO Richmond teacher for whom we have SGP data taught 6th grade reading two years in a row; ONE Richmond teacher for whom we have SGP data taught 6th grade math two years in a row. Nobody taught either subject three years in a row.

Any ideas?

She replied:

I have asked several teachers what and why they think it is that Richmond’s 6th and 7th graders go from a fully accredited elementary school to being dumber than a sack of rocks when they hit middle school.

Their collective answer: The elementary schools are cheating.

Could be. The 8th Grade SGPs (which are below but approaching state average values) are based entirely on the change from previous years’ middle school SOL scores, while the 7th Grade SGP scores can reach one year into elementary school and the 6th grade SGP scores are based entirely on the change from students’ SOL histories in elementary school. If Richmond’s elementary SOL scores were artificially high and the middle school SOLs were low normal, the 6th graders and, to a lesser degree the 7th graders, would be starting at an artificially high SOL, so their SGP scores would show abnormally little improvement. That is, the SGP scores would be abnormally low in the sixth and, to a lesser degree, seventh grades.

The 6th Grade teach-once-then-teach-something-else pattern would suggest that the new teachers get the sixth grade classes and that they get out as soon as they get any seniority. That would be consistent with unusually low sixth grade SGP scores, whether the elementary SOLs were inflated or not.

Let’s label Carol’s suggestion as an hypothesis and try to think of an experiment to falsify it.

In any event, with the prophylactic effect of Richmond’s appalling dropout rate (and, probably, Richmond’s remarkable retest rate), the scores rebound for Algebra I.

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**Coming Attraction**: SGP distributions by teacher.