Chris King and Helayne Jones claim that BVSD is improving the performance of our children based on measuring the CSAP scores using a "continuous weighted index." What is this CWI?
The CDE's Weighted Index: "Average of performance levels" when valued as follows.
Advanced = 150
Proficient = 100
Partially Proficient = 50
Unsatisfactory, Not Tested = -50
Ex: If all students were proficient, average index = 100.
Now this has the following downside compared to the measure I used in my previous post, namely if the change from year to year is as follows:
So in year 1 all 5 students are proficient and go on to C.U. We're doing good. The next year 3 students are advanced and go to Stanford, but 2 students are partial and do not go to college - not as good a situation. But the average has increased.
Ok, so better to use my measure of students that are proficient and above? Nope, it has a problem that if the district moves lots of students from unsatisfactory to partially proficient and moves a lot more from proficient to advanced, my measure does not show that.
Both are very legit measures. The district seems to be looking for a single magic number (like the GPA they assign to each student). But I think they need to have at least 2, if not 3 or 4 good measures of changes in performance.
Tracking it the CWI way - doesn't add up:
I took the numbers BVSD sent me earlier for CSAP scores. The numbers I have are not broken out by ethnicity or income level - they're for the district as a whole. And I had to copy & paste all these numbers into this spreadsheet so I may have made a mistake somewhere. And what did I find?
First of all, the BVSD numbers don't add up. Look at the percentage categories for grade 3 writing in 2002 - the percentage for all 4 categories adds up to 95%. So 5% are somewhere else - not sure how that plays out.
Second, I get somewhat different numbers from what Chris/Helayne's powerpoint presentation show. Their numbers are not always better either so I don't think it's cherry picking, but I do think they are calculating these numbers differently - and that difference may allow them to weight them to show a larger improvement.
Third, I think they are making a large deal out of small increases
So what do we have (click on image to get a larger version)? Reading dropped and they brought it back up. Writing has a small improvement. Science is all over the place. And Math rocked in the last 3 years.
But before we break out the champagne on the Math scores - the last 3 years is when they added 3rd and 4th grade to the Math CSAPs and it's the 3rd and 4th grade addition that gives us the big boost there. Remove the 3rd and 4th graders and no big jump. (I assume this is because the 3rd and 4th graders have a test that it's a bit easier for an average student to pass.)
So lets dive into Writing (picked because it shows a steady improvement). Note that the above graph has a range of 70 - 100 while this one has 0 - 100 so the changes will not be as pronounced.
But again, before we break out celebrating, these changes are minuscule. Keep in mind a 100 is not great. 35% of the students are unsatisfactory or partially proficient. We're failing 35% of our children here.
Now if BVSD can effect an improvement of 3% in the average every 10 years, then in a century they'll get us up to 95% passing. I don't know about you but I find this rate of improvement totally unacceptable. That's 5 generations of children where we are not providing for all of them.
And keep in mind the first improvements are always the easiest. It's unlikely we can see a boost of 3 - 5 points every 10 years ongoing. Arguably BVSD is improving ever so slightly. But it is barely above just holding it's ground. So yes, by the CWI measure Chris & Helyane can claim improvement - but barely. Definitely not at a rate that portends any significant increase.
And the bottom line in today's economy is that, with rare exceptions, if you don't get a college degree, your job prospects suck. Equality of opportunity does not exist for the 35% we're failing. And saying that in another 10 years we'll only be failing 30% - that is still abysmal.
I do want to note that I don't think our present school board is composed of people who want to fail 1/3 of our children. I think each and every one would make the district work if they could. I just think they have no idea how to go about doing it. I do think the school administration bears some culpability, but again, it's not clear they know how to do a better job. And without direction from and support of the board, it's hard to effect change.
As for the bozos at BVSD CAPE - get over yourselves. Some schools were closed. It may have been a dumb decision. If they had kept Washington school would we be sending more kids on to college? No. If we take an ineffective system with incapable managers and split it into 2 smaller districts - all the same problems exist. If you truly want to help, look at doing something useful.
What we need to do is elect a competent school board. Until we do that, anything else is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. And make no mistake, we are throwing 1/3 of our children overboard, with no lifeboats, to drown in an economy that wants a college degree.