The Bigger College Admissions Scandal: How our Public Schools Dupe Colleges (and our Kids)

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Is it good for our children to lie and cheat on their behalf? 

A striking feature about the college admissions scandal – revealed to the public this week through FBI indictments – is that the children of these wealthy elite were, for the most part, kept in the dark about their parents devious schemes to game the admissions system on their behalf. There were two main ways parents cheated the system: 1) through bribing coaches to claim that their children were elite athletes; 2) through falsifying their children’s SAT scores either by paying testing centers to change their answers or by paying proxies to take the test for them.

It is the latter scheme that the children seemed clueless about, their parents going to great lengths to keep their children in the dark. According to the FBI’s affidavit, one the plaintiffs planned to have her daughter take the exam on her own the first time because she knew her daughter would want to take it again to improve her score, no matter how high it was:  “I just know that no matter what, she’s so academically driven … no matter what happens, even if we go, ‘This is a great score,’ that she’ll go, ‘I really want to take it again.'”

Consequently, the children were duped into thinking that they had achieved at a higher level than they actually had, and that they were better prepared for college than they actually were.

This is exactly what public schools do when they lie about student achievement by rewarding students with good grades irrespective of the level of knowledge a student has actually attained in a course. While a student may sense that s/he has not really learned much in a class, the high grade is nonetheless a stamp of approval from the school that s/he has met expectations, and a signifier to colleges that the student is capable of succeeding in college level work.

But are they meeting expectations? In recent weeks, we have shown (on our Facebook page) that many high school students in Douglas County who make As and Bs in their courses cannot even make a respectable score on a standardized exam (either state administered EOCs, or College Board AP exams).  Let’s take Science for example. In AP Physics in 2018, even though 80% of the 203 students made an A or B in the class, only one – yes one! – made a passing score on the AP exam, and a shocking 88% made the lowest possible score of 1, indicating that they didn’t know any more AP Physics than you or I do. Yet colleges are misled by these grades, which suggest that the students are ready for college-level science, and throughout the course, the students were duped into thinking they were doing fine. At the lower end of the academic spectrum, over 50% of students made an A or B in Physical Science – a grade that should represent proficiency in the curriculum. Yet only 20% made a proficient score on the EOC exam. Thus, upwards of 30% of students were given a grade that signified ‘college readiness’, even though the more objective and valid exam score showed otherwise.

Such behavior is rationalized the same way these parents justified their own cheating. Teachers and administrators tell themselves that they are “helping kids out” by massaging their image on transcripts. But aside from the fact that dishonesty is wrong regardless of who it helps, are they really helped? It’s the kids who experience the long-term negative consequences of this cheating!

Students graduate deceived by the school system that they are ready for college, but they are eventually dispelled by this illusion when they fail post-graduation. According to statistics kept by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, five years after graduating, only 15% of the DCSS class of 2012 had a Bachelor’s degree. Four years after graduating, only 12% of the class of 2013 had any kind of postsecondary credential (which includes technical certificates. Statewide, the numbers aren’t much better (the deception is widespread!): 19% of all 2012 graduates had a Bachelor’s five years later.

This is likely only getting worse. And colleges are now lowering their standards to accommodate masses of unprepared students, thus making it even easier to graduate, while diminishing the value of a college degree.

Are you outraged by elites using their wealth to cheat the system? The regular manipulation of students’ grades to make it look like they are more capable than they are actually are is wrong for the same reasons, and is far more widespread and damaging to society.

Most Douglas County Students Are Not Graduating College Ready – an Open Letter to the BoE.

 


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Dear BoE,

As you know, the district high school CCRPI for 2018 was below 70, and about 5 points below the state. While tweaks were made to the CCRPI formula, in response to the state’s ESSA plan, I hope you will not give in to the temptation to write this result off as an artifact of these changes, as I’m sure some in the school system have done (if the formula change had such big effects, why did the state score barely budge?). Rather, I hope you will see that this result discloses more plainly what has been true for many years: that the majority of your students, indeed the VAST MAJORITY, do not graduate ‘college ready’ or are not currently on track to.
A deeper look into the CCRPI components show this quite plainly:
1. Only 26% of science exams were scored at Proficient or higher – the level that indicates college-readiness in that subject.
2. Only 26% of math exams were scored at Proficient or higher.
3. Only 21% made a college-ready score on either the ACT, SAT, AP, or IB exams (contrast that with 78% enrolled in advanced courses: many of these are AP students who cannot make a passing score on exams).
4. Only 29% went to college (this would have been from the 2017 class – there’s a year delay in this data) and did not have to take remedial courses in reading or math.
I urge you to check out these numbers for yourself. http://ccrpi.gadoe.org/2018/Views/Shared/_Layout.html
These numbers portray a situation where about three-fourths of your students are not college ready or on track to be! 
 
Yet in spite of this low college readiness rate, the district saw an 88% graduation rate. This was again higher than the state, even though fewer of our students are college ready! (DCSS under-performed the state in all the above areas).
How can we have such a high graduation rate when a diploma is supposed to represent college AND career readiness?
One of the answers is that disadvantaged students are enabled to advance through the system in spite of very low levels of achievement. Perhaps the most alarming CCRPI result is the ‘Closing the Gap’ category which has to do with the academic performance of disadvantaged groups. Your Closing the Gap score was a 29 (vs 70 for the state). This is a result, in large part, of none of your subgroups meeting their targets in Language Arts.  Yet disadvantaged groups graduate at a much higher rate!
The integrity of our high school diploma is at stake, because most graduates do not have the qualities a diploma is supposed to represent. Isn’t it one of the chief responsibilities of a local BOE to preserve the integrity of a diploma? By systemically devaluing a high school diploma, our school system is disadvantaging disadvantaged students, thus perpetuating their disadvantages instead of giving them a path out of it 
I’ve been pointing out these issues to you for over two years now, and honestly I do not think you have taken it seriously enough, being more concerned to reflect and delegitimize criticism than to fix problems, which requires facing up to them. Working to preserve the image of the school system first and foremost simply does not serve our children well. I hope you will get to the bottom of why college readiness is this low (hint: it has a lot to do with grading policies and practices that convey low expectations).
Regards,
Jeremy

How Many Students at Douglas County High School Are Excelling Academically?

To promote academic excellence in our high schools, we created the Excellence Index (EI): a simple way of rating schools academically by focusing exclusively on high achievement. The EI quantifies the percentage of students scoring at the highest levels on an array of exams. Scores are referenced to state and global norms, which are set to a EI score of 75 (representing a typical level of high achievement). To get a 75 score based on 2017 test score data a school would have:

 – 13% score a 5 on AP exams
– 10% score in the 90 percentile or higher on the SAT
– 9% score Distinguished Learner (Level 4) on EOCs (average of all 8 subjects)

– 29% score 6 or 7 on IB exams (if applicable)

These are each weighted equally in the index.

Douglas County High School’s 2018 Excellence Index score is a 52.  This means that Douglas County students are score at the highest levels on exams at a rate that is about 33% less than their peers statewide or nationally. The underlying data is in the graph below.

This data shows that rate at which Douglas County students score in the 90 percentile on the SAT is about 30% less than the national rate; the rate at which IB students scored a 6 or 7 on IB exams was about 40% less than the global rate; and that AP exams were more than 4 times less likely to get a score of a 5 than nationally.  For EOCs, the rate of students scoring at the Distinguished Learner level on the EOC was about 22% higher than the statewide rate.
chart (9)
The index score increased from 40 in 2017 to 51 as a result of:
1. A higher percentage of students scoring 6s or 7s on the IB exam (11% to 17%)
2. A higher percentage scoring a 5 on AP exams (2 to 3%)

3. A higher percentage scoring Level 4 on EOCs (10.4 to 11.1) coupled with a slight decrease in the state reference point. Deserving special attention is Economics with over 20% scoring a Level 4, and US History with over 16%. The Algebra rate was double the state!

However, in Physical Science, the only exam IB students do NOT take, only 0.8% scored a Level 4 (compared with 4% statewide).  It is thus likely that across all subjects, very few non-IB students are scoring at the top levels.

If you are a stakeholder at Douglas County High School (e.g. parent, grandparent, homeowner in the district, future parent), please help us advocate for excellence by contacting Principal Andre Weaver to express concern over low achievement in SAT and AP exams, and ask exactly what is being done to raise more students to these levels of achievement:

andre.weaver@douglas.k12.ga.us

 You might also include his immediate supervisor, Cathy Swanger: cathy.swanger@douglas.k12.ga.us

 

How Many Students at Chapel Hill Are Excelling Academically?

To promote academic excellence in our high schools, we created the Excellence Index (EI): a simple way of rating schools academically by focusing exclusively on high achievement. The EI quantifies the percentage of students scoring at the highest levels on an array of exams. Scores are referenced to state and global norms, which are set to a EI score of 75 (representing a typical level of high achievement). To get a 75 score based on 2017 test score data a school would have:

 – 13% score a 5 on AP exams
– 10% score in the 90 percentile or higher on the SAT
– 9% score Distinguished Learner (Level 4) on EOCs (average of all 8 subjects)

– 29% score 6 or 7 on IB exams (if applicable)

These are each weighted equally in the index.
Chapel High School’s 2018 Excellence Index score is a 31.  This means that Chapel Hill students are about 2.5 times LESS likely (31:75) to score at the highest levels on exams than their peers statewide or nationally. The underlying data is in the graph below.

This data shows that Chapel Hill students were about 10 times less likely to score in the 90% on the SAT; about 6 times less likely to score a 5 on any AP exam, and were about equally likely to score Distinguished Learner on the EOC.
chart (8)

Of note is the fact that in spite of having an AP magnet program, very few students are scoring at the highest level on AP exams. We believe this is largely as result of recruiting academically unqualified/unprepared students into AP courses, which allows them to offer more courses, which they market to attract students to their magnet program.

Positively, the percentage of students scoring on the EOC increased from 6.3 to 8.7. More students scored at the top level than the Georgia norm in Economics, US History, 9th Grade Lit, and American Lit. As a result of these gains, the EI score increased from 19 the previous year to 31.

If you are a stakeholder at Chapel High School (e.g. parent, grandparent, homeowner in the district, future parent), please help us advocate for excellence by contacting Principal Sean Kelly to express concern over low achievement in SAT and AP exams, and ask exactly what is being done to raise more students to these levels of achievement:

sean.kelly@douglas.k12.ga.us

 You might also include his immediate supervisor, Cathy Swanger: cathy.swanger@douglas.k12.ga.us

 

How Many Students at Lithia Springs Are Excelling Academically?

To promote academic excellence in our high schools, we created the Excellence Index (EI): a simple way of rating schools academically by focusing exclusively on high achievement. The EI quantifies the percentage of students scoring at the highest levels on an array of exams. Scores are referenced to state and global norms, which are set to a EI score of 75 (representing a typical level of high achievement). To get a 75 score based on 2017 test score data a school would have:

 – 13% score a 5 on AP exams
– 10% score in the 90 percentile or higher on the SAT
– 9% score Distinguished Learner (Level 4) on EOCs (average of all 8 subjects)

– 29% score 6 or 7 on IB exams (if applicable)

These are each weighted equally in the index.

Lithia Springs High School’s 2018 Excellence Index score is a 12.  This means that Lithia Springs students are about six times LESS likely (12:75) to score at the highest levels on exams than their peers statewide or nationally. The underlying data is in the graph below:

chart (7)

This data shows that Lithia Springs students were over 6 times less likely to score in the 90% on the SAT; about 13 times less likely to score a 5 on any AP exam, and were about four times LESS likely to score Distinguished Learner on the EOC.

Of note is the fact that in spite of having an accredited STEM program, very few students are scoring at the highest level in science and math. For state EOCs,  it was 2.8% in Algebra, 0.3% in Geometry, 5.0% in Biology, and 0.6% in Physical Science.  No one made the top score on an AP science or math exam.

LSHS’s previous EI score was a 9. The modest increase of 3 points is due to:

1. The fact that no one scored in the 90 percentile in 2016. Two students did so in 2017.

2. The decline in the state Distinguished Learner rate on EOCs (used as a reference point) from 9.6 to 9, increased its EI points in the EOC category.

If you are a stakeholder at Lithia Springs High School (e.g. parent, grandparent, homeowner in the district, future parent), please help us advocate for excellence by contacting Principal Garrett Askew to express concern over low achievement in SAT and AP exams, and ask exactly what is being done to raise more students to these levels of achievement:

garrick.askew@douglas.k12.ga.us

You might also include his immediate supervisor, Kwame Carr: kwame.carr@douglas.k12.ga.us

How Many Students at Alexander High School Are Excelling Academically?

To promote academic excellence in our high schools, we created the Excellence Index (EI): a simple way of rating schools academically by focusing exclusively on high achievement. The EI quantifies the percentage of students scoring at the highest levels on an array of exams. Scores are referenced to state and global norms, which are set to a EI score of 75 (representing a typical level of high achievement). To get a 75 score based on 2017 test score data a school would have:
– 13% score a 5 on AP exams
– 10% score in the 90 percentile or higher on the SAT
– 9% score Distinguished Learner (Level 4) on EOCs (average of all 8 subjects)
– 29% score 6 or 7 on IB exams (if applicable)
These are each weighted equally in the index.
Alexander High School’s 2018 Excellence Index score is a 40.  This means that Alexander students are about 53% less likely to score at the highest levels on exams than their peers statewide or nationally. The underlying data is in the graph below:
chart (6)
This data shows that Alexander students were over 2 times less likely to score in the 90% on the SAT; over 6 times less likely to score a 5 on any AP exam, and were just as likely to score Distinguished Learner on the EOC. Of note is the fact that in two subjects – 9th Grade Literature and US history – AHS had about 30% MORE students scoring at this level than the state of GA.
AHS’s previous EI score was a 25. The remarkable increase of 15 points is due to:
1. An increase from 1.5% to 4.5%  scoring in the 90 percentile on the SAT.
2. The decline in the state Distinguished Learner rate on EOCs (used as a reference point) from 9.6 to 9, increased its EI points in the EOC category.
3. An increase in Distinguished Learner rate from 6.7 to 8.8.
If you are a stakeholder at Alexander High School (e.g. parent, grandparent, homeowner in the district, future parent), please help us advocate for excellence by contacting Principal Nathan Hand to express concern over low achievement in SAT and AP exams, and ask exactly what is being done to raise more students to these levels of achievement:
nathan.hand@douglas.k12.ga.us
You might also include his immediate supervisor, Cathy Swanger: cathy.swanger@douglas.k12.ga.us

How Many Students at New Manchester High School Are Excelling Academically?

To promote academic excellence in our high schools, we created the Excellence Index (EI): a simple way of rating schools academically by focusing exclusively on high achievement. The EI quantifies the percentage of students scoring at the highest levels on an array of exams. Scores are referenced to state and global norms, which are set to a EI score of 75 (representing a typical level of high achievement). To get a 75 score based on last school year’s test score data a school would have:
– 13% score a 5 on AP exams
– 10% score in the 90 percentile or higher on the SAT
– 9% score Distinguished Learner (Level 4) on EOCs (average of all 8 subjects)
– 29% score 6 or 7 on IB exams (if applicable)
These are each weighted equally in the index.
New Manchester High School’s Excellence Index score for 2018 is 14.  This means that New Manchester students were about 5 times less likely to score at the highest levels on exams than their peers statewide or nationally. The underlying data is in the graph below:
chart (5)
This data shows that New Manchester students were 10 times less likely to score in the 90% on the SAT; 13 times less likely to score a 5 on any AP exam, and 3 times less likely to score Distinguished Learner on the EOC.
NMHS’s previous EI score was a 10. The increase of 4 points is due to:
1. An increase from 0% to 1% (representing 2 students) scoring in the 90 percentile on the SAT.
2. The decline in the state Distinguished Learner rate on EOCs (used as a reference point) from 9.6 to 9, increased its EI points in the EOC category.
If you are a stakeholder at New Manchester High School (e.g. parent, grandparent, homeowner in the district, future parent), please help us advocate for excellence by contacting Principal Marco Holland to express concern over these results and ask exactly what is being done to raise more students to these levels of achievement:
marco.holland@douglas.k12.ga.us
You might also include his immediate supervisor, Kwame Carr: kwame.carr@douglas.k12.ga.us

Explaining CCRPI Results – High School, Part 2

In 2017, Douglas County high schools, collectively, earned 1.6 “Challenge Points” on the College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI) for the performance of “disadvantaged” populations: Economically Disadvantaged (ED), English Language Learners (ELL), and Students with Disabilities (SWD). This compares with 0.5 points for the state as a whole. Can we conclude from this result that these vulnerable populations are learning more and are better prepared for life after high school?

To answer this question, we need to first look at how the points are calculated. The calculation essentially is the product of the proportion of all students in one of these three categories (which determines the maximum possible points in this area) and the number of “performance targets” met by these subgroups. There are nine types of targets for each of the three groups: eight are EOC exam performance and one is graduation rate, resulting in 27 targets total.

The proportion of these three subgroups in Douglas County schools is very close to that in the entire state (60.7% compared to 62%). Hence, that variable in the equation has a minimal effect. Douglas County students, though, met 7 of 27 targets, whereas the State as a whole only met two:

Douglas County                                                                  Georgia

ED – Graduation Rate                                                         ED – 9th Grade Literature EOC
ED – 9th Grade Literature EOC                                        ED – American Literature EOC
ED – American Literature EOC
ED – Economics EOC
ELL – Graduation Rate
SWD – Graduation Rate
SWD – Geometry EOC

This difference of five targets met results in the positive differential of 1.1 points compared to the State. Yet notice that three of these five targets are graduation rates. Douglas County is graduating these subgroups at a higher rate than the State. The fact that there are two more EOC targets met may suggest to you that these students are learning more, and thus the higher graduation rate is legitimate, but what does the actual test score data reveal?

Table 1 shows the weighted EOC exam proficiency rates for these subgroups. In this formula, students who score at the “Proficient Learner” level are weighted 1.0, while those who score “Developing Learner” are weighted 0.5. Thus, a score of a 50 could mean that 50% were Proficient, or that 100% were Developing, or some combination thereof.

ED EOC Scores

Table 1 – EOC Performance and Graduation Rates of Disadvantaged Subgroups (bold means subgroup targets were met; green means outperformed the State, though targets were not met. 

Douglas County students had lower exam scores in 18 of 24 areas, yet the graduation rates were 7 to 11 points higher for each group. We can conclude from these results that more students graduated while achieving less, which further confirms that the district’s higher graduation rates are NOT the result of higher achievement but of lower academic standards. Furthermore, since Proficiency on these exams is the level indicating that students are ready for college-level work, it is also the case the fewer of these students are prepared for college.

Perhaps this is why fewer Douglas County graduates, as a whole, are enrolling in college in recent years. For example, according to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, 64% of 2015 high school graduates statewide enrolled in college (including technical schools); whereas Douglas Co. graduates enrolled at a 58% rate.

It is reasonable to conclude then that these subgroup graduation rates are inflated relative to actual achievement. Together they result in 0.7 more Challenge Points. Combined with the fact that the TOTAL graduation rate, which includes all students and is thus likewise made higher by these subgroups’ rates, results in at least 1 more Achievement Point, then altogether questionably high graduation rates are the cause of at least 1.7 additional CCRPI points.

This small amount is not trivial. It accounts for over half the positive differential with state high school CCRPI, and it allows, potentially, for high schools to avoid accountability under the district’s “Strategic Waiver” contract with the GA DoE. This consequence is especially galling considering the fact that the waivers include regulations affecting students who are ELL and SWD. For example, the school system can now enlarge class sizes for these groups to whatever size they wish and still receive additional funding for them, whereas prior to the “waivers” this funding was contingent on staying below certain class size maximums.

This situation reeks of injustice. If our high schools, and thus the administrators who run them, look better from higher graduation rates resulting in higher CCRPIs, and these higher scores come at the expense of properly educating the most vulnerable students in the school system, then people in power are benefiting at the expense of the poor and marginalized. Is exploitation taking place in our high schools?

This is the final post in a series on 2017 CCRPI Results. See also:

Elementary CCRPI

Middle School CCRPI

High School CCRPI Part 1

Explaining CCRPI Results – High School, part 1

 

high school

In contrast with the elementary school and middle school CCRPI, Douglas County’s high school CCRPI increased in 2017 (by 1.3 points) and also beat the state CCRPI (by 3.2 points) . In view of persistently low levels of high school student achievement in Douglas County and the fact that many recent graduates are not doing well in college , how can we account for this result?

Table 1 breaks down the main components for CCRPI for the District versus the State.  Douglas County scores exceed the state by one point or more in Achievement (a composite measure of success from a single year); Progress (basically the change in EOC test scores from the previous year relative to groups of similar students across the state); and Challenge (up to 10 extra bonus points earned through a variety of means). Let’s analyze each of these in order.

HS CCRPI t1

‘Achievement’ is comprised of 18 indicators, which are grouped into 3 categories: ‘Content Mastery’ (#1-8) is a weighted average of passing rates on the eight EOC exams and counts for 40% of the points; ‘Post High School Readiness’ (#9-16) includes a variety of indicators predictive of career and/or college success and counts for 30%; and ‘Graduation Rate’ (#17-18) includes both the 4-year and the 5-year rate and counts for 30%. Table 2 shows the relative weight of each indicator, and compares the points Douglas County earned on each with the State.

The eight indicators in which the District outperforms the State are in bold (see Indicator Key at bottom). Three are EOC exam scores; two are graduation rates. Of the remaining three in Post High School Readiness, two (#s 12 and 13) have to do with completion of courses or a sequence of courses, and not with achievement assessed independently of the schools, which means they can be driven up by lowering standards and inflating grades. For example, we know that nearly 100% of students pass AP courses in Douglas County, even though only 10-15% take and pass AP exams. This high course pass rate is the main reason why the district scores high on indicator 12.

Notice the contrast between indicator 12 and indicator 11, which is called the “College Readiness” Indicator. It is the percentage of graduates meeting at least one of a list of achievement known to predict for success in college. Only 63% of Douglas County graduates qualified, compared to 73% for the state, yet more are passing “accelerated courses” like AP.

HS CCRPI t2

To assess the impact of these indicators on the overall CCRPI, it is helpful to look at the relative contribution of each of the three categories. Table 3 shows the “weighted achievement’ of each category.  Douglas County earned 71% of the possible achievement points compared to 69% from the state, resulting in a 1.1 point differential due to higher scores in Post High School Readiness and Graduation Rate. How much of this difference is due to REAL achievement?

HS CCRPI t3

Indicator 10 requires students to pass an “end of pathway assessment.” These are technical skills tests linked to industry standards. I know very little about what these entail, but if they are indeed assessed by experts external to the schools, this would be a legitimate and significant achievement. However, as already explained, Indicators 12 and 13, which together account for over 2/3rds of the 0.85 point difference, merely require completion and thus can be driven up by manipulating/inflating grades.

As for Graduation Rates, we know that these are too high relative to real measures of academic achievement. If graduation rates were proportional to real achievement, the Douglas County’s rates would be lower than the state’s. Thus, at least 1 point of the CCRPI difference is due to Douglas County’s inflated graduation rates.

Finally, the Challenge Points are also 1.1 points higher than the State. Challenge Points have two sub-categories: the performance of disadvantaged students and “exceeding the bar” points that can be earned in nine different ways. Both the district’s and the state’s Challenge Points were earned in the former category. Does this mean, then, that Douglas County’s disadvantaged students (economically disadvantaged, English language learners, and students with disabilities) are doing better than disadvantaged students throughout the state?

That is a complicated question, and will be the focus of Part 2 of this post.

INDICATOR KEY

1 – Weighted percent of students scoring at Developing Learner or above on the Georgia Milestones Ninth Grade Literature EOC (required participation rate >= 95%)
2 – Weighted percent of students scoring at Developing Learner or above on the Georgia Milestones American Literature EOC (required participation rate >= 95%)
3 – Weighted percent of students scoring at Developing Learner or above on the Georgia Milestones Algebra I/Coordinate Algebra EOC (required participation rate >= 95%)
4 – Weighted percent of students scoring at Developing Learner or above on the Georgia Milestones Geometry/Analytic Geometry EOC (required participation rate >= 95%)
5 – Weighted percent of students scoring at Developing Learner or above on the Georgia Milestones Physical Science EOC (required participation rate >= 95%)
6 – Weighted percent of students scoring at Developing Learner or above on the Georgia Milestones Biology EOC (required participation rate >= 95%)
7 – Weighted percent of students scoring at Developing Learner or above on the Georgia Milestones US History EOC (required participation rate >= 95%)
8 – Weighted percent of students scoring at Developing Learner or above on the Georgia Milestones Economics EOC (required participation rate >= 95%)
9 – Percent of graduates completing a CTAE pathway, or an advanced academic pathway, or an IB Career Related Programme, or a fine arts pathway, or a world language pathway within their program of study
10 – Percent of graduates completing a CTAE pathway and earning a national industry recognized credential (passing an end of pathway assessment)
11 – Percent of graduates entering TCSG/USG not requiring remediation or learning support courses; or scoring at least 22 out of 36 on the composite ACT;
or scoring at least 480 out of 800 on Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and 530 out of 800 on Math on SAT; or scoring 3 or higher on two or more AP exams; or scoring 4 or higher on two or more IB exams
12 – Percent of graduates earning high school credit(s) for accelerated enrollment via Move on When Ready, Advanced Placement courses, or International Baccalaureate courses
13 – Percent of graduates completing a career-related Work-Based Learning Program or career-related Capstone Project (Includes IB projects)
14 – Percent of students achieving a Lexile measure greater than or equal to 1275 on the Georgia Milestones American Literature EOC
15 – Percent of students’ assessments scoring at Proficient or Distinguished Learner on Georgia Milestones EOCs
16 – Percent of students missing fewer than 6 days of school
17 – 2017 4-Year Cohort Graduation Rate (%)
18 – 2016 5-Year Extended Cohort Graduation Rate (%)

 

 

 

 

Explaining CCRPI Results – Middle School

middle

Douglas County’s Middle School CCRPI dropped by 3.6 points (a 5% decrease) from 2016 to 2017, and is now below the state average (68.4 compared to 73) for the first time in a few years. Why did it decline, and why was it three points below the state for 2017?

The first table in the spreadsheet below compares the major CCRPI components from 2016 and 2017. Achievement (a composite measure of success from a single year) remained essentially the same; Progress (basically the change in test scores from the previous year relative to groups of similar students across the state) declined by 3.2 points; Achievement Gap (the success or progress of the lowest 25% of students relative to state norms) declined by 1.7 points; and the Challenge points (up to 10 extra bonus points earned through a variety of means) dropped from 0.5 to zero.

Since the biggest drop was in Progress points, let look more closely at this component first.

The Progress points are based on the percentage of students who experience “typical or high growth” from the previous year of Milestones exams. It is referenced to a 75% benchmark, which means a school gets all 40 points if 75% of its students meet this criteria. In 2016, 64.8% of Douglas County students met the criteria; in 2017, this declined modestly to 62.5%

Note, though, that “typical or high growth” is defined relative to other students throughout the state. This number then does not mean necessarily that 62.5% of students saw an increase in test scores! If the typical student’s test scores were flat statewide, then students who show no improvement will earn a school progress points.

This decline in “growth” numbers was likely concentrated among the lowest 25% of students because the Achievement Gap also declined.

Even though the drop in Challenge Points is small, it is worth looking at closely. In 2016, the district earned its 0.5 challenge points because its disadvantaged populations/sub-groups (Economically Disadvantaged, English Language Learners, and Students with Disabilities) met their test score targets in 1 (of 12) areas : Language Arts for Economically Disadvantaged.  In 2017, none met their test score targets!

Note that these targets are set relative to the sub-group, so they are already significantly lower than state test score norms as a whole.

That accounts for the decline. Compared to the state in 2017 only, we see that Achievement, Progress and Achievement Gap were lower. Since we have already discussed the latter two, let’s scrutinize the Achievement component.

The second table breaks down the Achievement points. The biggest gulfs here with the state are test scores: we have more students failing tests, except for Language Arts (indicators 2 through 4) and fewer students are scoring at the top two levels of exams (indicator 10; which means fewer finish the year at grade level!).

It should concern us all deeply that only 38% of our Middle School students are on grade level in any given subject. By 8th grade, schools can predict with high reliability whether their students are on a pathway for being prepared for college upon graduation based on test scores. Scoring “Proficient” or higher indicates that a child is on that trajectory.

This number does not tell us how many students scored Proficient on ALL 4 subject areas. If it is 38%, that would mean that every child who scored Proficient on at least one exam, also scored Proficient on the other 3, and that the other 62% scored Proficient on none.  It is likely, then, that much LESS THAN 38% are on a college ready path in ALL subjects.

The power to improve our schools lies  in the local community. We have to hold school leaders accountable, while also recognizing that educating children is the work of the whole community. It will take a collective efforts by parents, grandparents, business leaders, in concert with the school system to bring about major improvements.