Is it: School revival showing promise, not proof???
An on line story titled “School improvement grant results mixed” dated April 13, 2012 is now on line in the Kentucky Enquirer’s web site. It ran front page, top of the fold in the Sunday print edition of the Enquirer as “School revival showing promise, not proof,” which clearly conveys a different meaning.
To get a better idea about what is really going on, I dusted off a table I created last year on the first 10 schools in Kentucky to get identified as “Persistently Low-Achieving Schools” under the federal government’s School Improvement Grant program. This graph (click on it to enlarge, if needed) shows that earlier table updated with recently released test scores for the 2011-12 school term.
For reference, the statewide PLAN Composite Score average in 2011-12 was 17.0 and the statewide EXPLORE Composite average was 15.2. Every school in this listing scored well below those statewide norms in the current school term.
Based on the uneven up and down score trends in most schools in the listing, coupled with the drops in enrollment in the majority of these schools, I think it is too early to tell what is really happening. Due to the up and down trends in many schools’ scores, I’m not ready to say the results show promise.
Here’s how to read this table.
Schools are color-coded by their home district. Thus, the six schools from Jefferson County share pink shading.
The appropriate PLAN or EXPLORE scores for the 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 school terms are listed for each school (PLAN is given in the fall of each school term to 10th grade students and EXPLORE is given in the fall to eighth graders). PLAN Scores are reported on a 0 to 32 point scale and EXPLORE uses a 0 to 25 point scale.
The trend in scores over the three year period is shown by arrows.
Upward arrows indicate the 2011-12 Composite Score is higher than the 2009-10 score for each school. However, not all the upward arrows are associated with consistent performance.
The one arrow shaded in dark green (Caverna High School) shows Composite Score progress has been consistently upward since 2009-10.
All the upward arrows shaded in tan indicate schools where progress has been uneven over time.
For example, Composite Score progress in Lawrence County High School went up substantially between 2009-10 and 2010-11, but dropped back in 2011-12, though the final 2011-12 score is still higher than in 2009-10.
Metcalfe County High got a tan arrow because its scores were flat in the first two years and only increased by 0.2 point in 2011-12.
Fern Creek High School’s scores increased between the first and second school term but stayed flat in year three.
Two Jefferson County schools, Valley Traditional High School and Robert Frost Middle School, have yellow horizontal arrows to indicate scores were flat for 2009-10 and 2011-12.
Overall, it is clear that performance in these schools to date has been uneven, though most schools do show a small amount of improvement between 2009-10 (before the Persistently Low-Achieving Schools program got going) and this term.
Based on the up and down score trends that predominate in this little study – which only covers Kentucky schools, of course – I think the title from the web article, “School improvement grant results mixed,” might be the most accurate description. However, the truth is it is still too soon to really tell what is happening in these traditionally troubled schools.
One more thing. The far right column of the table shows the changes in the numbers of students tested each year on EXPLORE or PLAN in these schools. This is a fair estimate of the eighth and tenth grade enrollment because all students are supposed to take these assessments. Note that enrollment in six of the ten schools declined between 2009-10 and 2011-12. Statewide, over this period the PLAN data indicates enrollment declined only very slightly for the tenth grade. However, the EXPLORE data shows that eighth grade enrollment rose. Are parents voting on these schools with ‘their children’s feet’?