Reporter asks Obama re NCLB

At a rally of 100,000 here in St. Louis, Leisa Zigman of KSDK asks Barack Obama about the future of NCLB especially considering that no St. Louis County district met AYP goals even though many of them are “overperforming.” (Overperforming?) He said we need to change the way we assess schools so that we encourage accountability but in a way that is possible for schools to meet.

MAP scores highlight U.S. inequality

I am intrigued by the newly released Mo. MAP scores in a similar way to my fascination with political polling, complete with a need to understand the caveats and to dig deeper.

Fareed Zakaria, in The Post-American World, explains the U.S. math score mediocrity.

❝But even if the U.S. scores in math and science fall well below leaders like Singapore and Hong Kong, the aggregate scores hide deep regional, racial, and socioeconomic variation. [...] The difference between average science scores in poor and wealthy school districts within the United States, for instance, is four to five times greater than the difference between the U.S. and Singaporean national averages. In other words, America is a large and diverse country with a real inequality problem.❞

This inquality is highlighted in the St. Louis County MAP scores. The 10th grade math scores ranged from 81.4 percent of a school scoring proficient or advanced at Clayton to 0 at Wellston.

OK, that is pretty extreme. The top five scoring districts averaged 71.6 prof/adv.; while the bottom five districts (excluding Wellston) averaged 15.6. I excluded Wellston because it has had its accreditation stripped and students may go elsewhere. In fact several go to Clayton.

The elementary math numbers aren’t any better. I chose 5th grade because I felt that gave students several years to get used to testing. The top five districts averaged 75.02 prof/adv; whereas, the bottom five averaged 18.76.

Missouri students write for their state assessment too!

Debbie Monterrey and Doug McElvein of KMOX's Total Information AM interviewed (audio download) Thomas Toch of Education Sector this morning about NCLB, focusing on how the tests differ between states. Yes, states construct their own tests of varying difficulty levels.

I thought it ironic, and showing of poor prep all around, that the state everyone kept referring to as one that uses open-ended questions, you know, actually having the kids write, was Massachusetts. True, Massachusetts has challenging tests, but, hey! Missouri does too! The kids complete short answer questions in addition to a writing prompt. The local angle and all that.

MAP practice tests

IES Research and Development Report
Mapping 2005 State Proficiency Standards onto the NAEP Scales
(MO not included in Reading)
4th grade math
Mo 5th highest and close to the NAEP proficient cut score (242)
8th grade math
Mo highest score and well above the NAEP proficient cut score (311)

Rant over, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

White Flight? Let's look at those test scores

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch printed an interesting article on white flight affecting the Hazelwood School District. The Libertarian-styled think-tank Show-Me Center's education blogger, Sarah Brodsky, responded that maybe people were leaving the district because of state test scores.

❝The whites may be moving to districts that do better than Hazelwood on the state tests.❞

So I looked up the state test scores. Most of the population shift has been to St. Charles, so that was my comparison.

St. Charles
Comm 49.4 met 2 of 7 targets
Math 49.4 met 2 of 7 targets
Graduation rate 81.3

Comm 34 met 2 of 8 targets
Math 30.2 met 4 of 9 targets
Graduation rate 83.9
District improvement level 1

Hazelwood West
Comm. 43.2
Math 33.9

While people in St. Louis are a bit jaded on the whole AYP since even the wealthy districts can't meet all their targets, neither of these districts have numbers to brag about. (Although in fairness, they could also be much worse.) Yes, St. Charles has higher scores than Hazelwood, but I don't see that they justify mass movement. If you look at Hazelwood West's scores, the focus school of the article, they are closer especially in reading. I suspect other factors are in play.