26 August 2008

Maybe They Made It

WASL results were released today. It is the earliest I ever remember the data being available on-line. Scores were always made available to schools by this point, but not necessarily the public. So, of course, I had to spend some time looking at a few schools and districts of interest.

My students from last year are somewhere in the mix. I don't have direct access to their scores, although I have a couple of leads on getting a copy. For now, I'm looking at things within the context of the whole school. The Not-So-Pretty school is posting an increase of 12% in its science scores. It sounds snazzy, but when you look again, you see that it's not quite the whole story. It does represent the increase in percent of kids in the class of 2010 who met the standards; however, many students (especially the brainy ones) chose to take the test when they were 9th graders. Kids who waited until their sophomore year only beat the previous year's mark by 3%: not a significant difference. In other words, it's the junior high teachers making the greatest difference in achievement. When you look at the overall cohort, that's when the 12% shows up.

Here is what I think is interesting:

Every ethnic group is trending up (not surprising considering the overall change), but look at the Black students. For the record, the increase is from 13.6% to 41.7%. No other group had the same rate of increase: more than triple the previous year. Hispanics and Asians doubled their pass rate. I really hope that the teacher who thought my brown male students were little more than trash sees these scores. Ditto for The Tree Killer, whose instructional approach and attitude routinely runs off most anyone who isn't pale. I used to wonder why the feeder junior high had such a diverse student presence in its advanced science program...but the high school did not. I don't wonder anymore. Will anyone else, now that I'm gone? Will anyone see my students in here and encourage them further? If my population, which was drawn from the same "low" mix as The Bad Neighbor's, performed significantly better, will anyone care?

I am dying to know, of course, about how the kids did...how well their performance was predicted by the grading practices I used last year. I might never actually find out, but I'd like to think I will. I'd like to think that my kiddos made it.

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