Bring Back SGPs (Student Growth Percentiles)

I suspect John Butcher was writing tongue-in-cheek when he headlines his latest post on Cranky’s Blog, “Why Do the New Tests Punish the Poorer Kids?” As shown by the graph (left), when the Virginia Department of Education introduced new Standards of Learning (SOL) tests reflecting higher standards a few years ago, average test scores dropped for both students classified as disadvantaged (qualifying for free school lunches) and those not so qualified (referred to as non-disadvantaged). But scores dropped harder and further for the disadvantaged kids. The gap in pass rates between the two groups has increased from around 13 percentage points to about 20.

Far from “punishing” poor kids, as John is well aware, the revised SOLs simply exposed the true gap in learning that was taking place. “There is one obvious conclusion: Before the new tests, ED students did not perform as well as their more affluent peers,” John wrote. ” The new tests magnify that deficit.”

In a sense, the tests do punish school districts with large populations of economically disadvantaged kids. They look worse by comparison under the current testing regime. The Virginia Board of Education, he noted, abandoned a metric, Student Growth Percentiles, that measured students’ academic progress, creating an avenue for districts with a large percentage of poor kids to shine. I can’t begin to imagine why state officials jettisoned that measure.

There are currently no comments highlighted.

9 responses to “Bring Back SGPs (Student Growth Percentiles)

  1. Oh, I suspect Cranky knows full well he is looking at a court exhibit. It will be exhibit one when a lawsuit is filed in federal court challenging Virginia’s school financing systems and the various distribution formulas as unfair to the poor, unfair to minorities, and inadequate all around. The remedy sought? What, you missed the Mayor’s March? More! Give us more!

    Cranky, when we worked under the same roof, was known to be a fine lawyer. Am I wrong, friend? Does this not better make that case than the old metric? Think it’s an accident?

    • “Cranky, when we worked under the same roof, was known to be a fine lawyer.”

      Should that have been I case, I thank the Lord that Cranky saw the light, and switch his gears to undertake his current noble calling.

  2. Exhibit two: http://thehalfsheet.org/
    Note in particular the second graph claiming Virginia one of six states with a pattern of lower funding to school districts with higher poverty levels. Can you say disparate impact? Remember, it was Republican Bill Stanley and his Richmond Democrat pal Paul Goldman hinting broadly a while back that legal action was coming.

    • I notice the halfsheet doesn’t address Fairfax County, which spends considerably more on low-income students than it does for other students. Neither does it mention the additional state funding that goes along with federal Title I money. Nor was there any mention of differences in operating costs due to differences in cost of living. But it looks like the organization is on the left side of things, therefore, accuracy and completeness is not required.

  3. re: ” Virginia one of six states with a pattern of lower funding to school districts with higher poverty levels. Can you say disparate impact? ”

    Not sure how that conclusion is drawn as Virginia actually mandates how much spending is required via the Composite Index process.

    Virginia actually has school districts like Henrico which has a range of schools in high and low income neighborhoods as well as SOL scores that are higher in the higher income neighborhoods and lower in the low income neighborhoods.

    Henrico itself basically decides how to fund and staff all the schools within it’s county; the state plays no role in that.

    It’s easy for folks like Cranky to point to an urban district like Richmond and call out it’s issues but what does he say about counties like Henrico which also have schools just as bad as Richmond schools in terms of performance?

    And how would we look at county’s like Henrico in terms of student growth potential where in the “good” schools in “good” neighborhoods those scores would be “good” but in schools in low-income neighborhoods, those scores would be not so good.

    I’d say that between Henrico and Richmond, Henrico has the better opportunity to bring up the low schools by focusing it’s ample resources on them whereas in Richmond the task is much more daunting.

    Further, if Henrico can’t “fix” it’s own low-income schools – what does that say about Henrico and why do we only point to Richmond for it’s failings and not Henrico also?

    At the end of the day- the reality is that low-income kids don’t do so well whether it’s in Richmond or Henrico and it has more to do with the problems of low-income kids and virtually all public school systems (as well as non-public schools) inability to cure the problem using traditional education approaches.

    One of the biggest problems is that the better teachers will not agree to staff low-income schools – whether it be in Richmond or Henrico. They will go to other schools because it’s the same pay and there is far less threat of getting blamed for something they can’t fix and likely will have their career harmed in staying.

    that’s the reality. All this “stuff” about holding them “accountable” is worthless unless the same critics have a better approach.. It’s easy to tear down – but unless it’s actually constructive – what’s the real point?

    • “At the end of the day- the reality is that low-income kids don’t do so well whether it’s in Richmond or Henrico and it has more to do with the problems of low-income kids and virtually all public school systems (as well as non-public schools) inability to cure the problem using traditional education approaches.”

      No, the traditional education approaches will work as has been proven again and again. It is modern teaching methods and classroom behaviors and culture, that have failed these kids again and again. That includes the sure failure of Fairfax County’s “equity” program mentioned below by Fred Costello.

  4. What if low-income parents have low academic abilities and their children inherit their low academic abilities? Would you continue to expect students with low academic abilities to match those with high academic abilities? If you do, welcome to Fairfax County’s “equity” program.

    • low academic PERFORMANCE such that if a parent did not receive a good education – is it possible their kid will end up the same – especially if they are going to a school that is not a good school academically and not staffed adequately in numbers and competency?

      so BEFORE we go insinuate that parents have low IQs or other personal failings rather than as capable as anyone else if they actually did get a good education… we ought to at least – ourselves – (being “educated” and smart ourselves you know) … consider those things so that we know we can really write them off rather than take responsibility for our continuing failures to educate some folks, usually the poor, adequately so their kids can escape those circumstances… you know.. all that equal opportunity stuff….

      I would AGREE that our traditional teaching protocols that seem to work fine with kids of good economic circumstances – don’t work with low income kids but I would also point out that we actually do KNOW what DOES WORK – we DO have schools that do teach low income kids – successfully.

      The problem is it takes higher level competency from the teachers and typically the “better” teachers CHOOSE to NOT work at low income schools for the same salary as other schools and at the same time put their own career at risk when administrators scapegoat the staff at low income schools.

      Ultimately, WE actually are responsible for this – and claiming it’s due to low IQ and other illicit stuff reflects on us… we want to blame others for what we ourselves are failing to do… and yes.. I’m fine with non-public schools competing with public schools to do this job better – as long as we do it on a fair basis where those schools have to accept low-income kids and they are judged the same way on their effectiveness…

  5. Pingback: Money and Economic Disadvantage, Refrain – CrankysBlog

Leave a Reply