What Would You Do to Fix Richmond's Middle Schools?
Seriously, send us your best ideas. John Butcher and I both know that the people with the best ideas for fixing our schools -- the teachers, the students and the parents -- are frequently the ones most afraid of being punished for speaking out. Send us your best ideas, we'll keep your identity anonymous (but we do need to have some idea of who you are). Step up, folks, speak out!
Looking at Binford’s dismal performance I mentioned that it is a piece with the generally awful performance of our middle schools. So I wondered whether the data might reveal any details.
We start with the pass rate on the reading exams, by grade.
Here we see that Richmond’s economically disadvantaged students underperform their more affluent peers by an average 22 points and that the difference decreases some in the higher grades.
The statewide data show a 26% difference that is nearly constant through the grades.
Expressing the pass rates as percentages of the state values gives an indication of Richmond’s performance vs. the state average.
Here we see Richmond’s subpar performance deteriorates in middle school for both richer and poorer students.
The mathematics results show more variation by grade, both locally and statewide, with a much larger drop in the relative Richmond scores in middle school.
Again, Richmond’s middle schools are deleterious, albeit more so than on the reading tests, to both groups.
The first explanation that leaps to mind for the middle school plunge is middle class flight. Sure enough, Richmond sees an increase in the economically disadvantaged in its middle schools.
We know that increasing the economically disadvantaged population in Virginia lowers scores.
However, the 4% increase in Richmond at Grade 6 should account for only about 1.3 points on both the reading and math tests, based on the state averages, yet the Richmond pass rates drop by some 14 points on the reading tests (15 points for ED, 13 points for non-ED) and more on the math tests (22 points for ED, 16 for non-ED).
Something awful is happening in our middle schools. These data don’t seem to tell us what it might be. If you have any ideas that might be tested with these or other data, please drop me an email.