It's Crying Time Again -- Richmond has THE Worst SOL Scores in Reading and Math

BREAKING NEWS .... Charles Pyle,  a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), just released a statement concerning the Standards of Learning  data that John Butcher downloaded yesterday from VDOE's website and which Butcher and I both posted on our respective blog and websites. Pyle's statement sent via e-mail at 2:55 p.m., July 2, 2013:

"The data you accessed through the build-a-table application on the VDOE website and shared with Carol Wolf is from an incomplete database base that was inadvertently and prematurely exposed to the public through the application. The reports you created do not reflect the results of 300,000 – 400,000 state assessments that have yet to be loaded into the system. Access to 2012-2013 assessment data won’t available to the public until next month. The database includes personally identifiable student information."

Butcher's response sent at 3:13 p.m., July 2, 2013: 

"I don't care whether it's incomplete or not; it's a public record.  "Availability to the public" depends on whether the records meet a FOIA exception, not on VDOE fiat.  As to personally identifiable student information, your folks use the magic "<" to protect that and I expect they'll continue to do so.  I want the rest of it."

Meanwhile, stay tuned.  Butcher and I will keep the data posted on our websites and will compare it to the "final" data when it is released next month.  Or sooner.   ~ CW

Here are the dirty dozen school divisions -- the 12 WORST -- in reading and math from across Virginia, according to the latest data available from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).
As predicted, the new English test dropped the scores overall.  Also,  as predicted, the loss of the ability to use the VGLA to cheat cost Richmond more than most other divisions.  The math scores statewide rebounded from the new test last year, however, Richmond continued to sink. Calls for comment from Richmond Public School (RPS) and Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) officials have not yet been returned. 

The ever-vigilant John Butcher at The Cranky Taxpayer.Org website pulled the new 2012-2013 reading and math scores yesterday afternoon from VDOE's website and database: and we each posted data and analysis on the SaveOur Schools blogsite and on the Cranky Taxpayer website:

Butcher made copies of all the data he pulled yesterday (which was a good thing) since  today it appears that VDOE officials have removed the 2013 information and it is no longer available from the database.

Butcher sent an e-mail at 11:58 a.m. today to VDOE's public relations officer, Charles Pyle, asking why the data was removed.  "Given that the data already are in the wild, I suggest you reactivate the database so I (and others) can look at other data.  Failing that, please consider this a FOIA request for the entire database and start the five-day clock."

Meanwhile, the new data provide evidence, as has been reported by SaveOurSchools blogsite and the CrankyTaxpayer website, that Richmond Public School (RPS) officials used the Virginia Grade Level Alternative (VGLA) assessment to essentially cheat and falsely inflate test scores.  Click here to read SaveOurSchools earlier report: Beware Their Cheating Hearts concerning VGLA abuse and SOL cheating.

Those data cast a clear light on the effect of Richmond's VGLA cheating.  We start with the math scores by year.  Here are the Richmond and state scores for students with and without disabilities; the second graph shows the Richmond scores minus the state scores, both with and without disabilities.


Notice that Richmond has performed well below the state average but its students with disabilities performed well above the state average for students with disabilities until 2012.  Further notice the drop in scores for students with disabilities in 2011, perhaps related to the State Superintendent's belated "concern" about abuse of the VGLA. 

To the point here, Richmond's kids without disabilities underperformed the state average while the kids with disabilities outperformed the statewide average for students with disabilities.  Until 2012, that is, when the new test stopped Richmond's abuse of the VGLA and took the Richmond scores for students with disabilities below the state scores.

The new reading test in 2013, with no VGLA (except for LEP students), confirms this picture.  Again we see Richmond's students before 2013 generally underperforming the state average but its students with disabilities outperforming the state average for students with disabilities.  But the 2013 plunge in Richmond's scores, led by the students with disabilities, gives away the game.


"Plunge" understates the reality: Richmond's students with disabilities went from 3 points above the state average for students with disabilities to 16.7 points below from 2012 to 2013.  Looking at these scores in context with the math test leaves only one explanation: the Richmond scores for students with disabilities were inflated until deflated by the new, VGLA-free math and reading tests.

The following charts compare the scores of surrounding localities and Richmond.