Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dayton & Disadvantaged Ohio Urban Schools

The perennial topic of public education took a new turn with a recent article on a Youngstown State University study making a close correlation between the state academic ratings and socioeconomic measures. Dayton blogs have picked up the issue, with a running discussion at DMM and a good post (with comments) at Esrati.

The study noted that performance correlates with the following:

1. Median income

2. Children in poverty

3. Children coming from single-parent households.

…with a particularly close correlation with median income.

This information is not readily available by district for the amateur researcher. The state report card site, however, has data sets on economic disadvantage, giving a % of students classified as economically disadvantaged by district and school (though I didn’t see an obvious link to a definition of “economically disadvantaged” at the state board of ed website).

Ranking the city districts by % economically disadvantaged Dayton does rank near the bottom, but the Columbus city district, surprisingly, has nearly all its students in this category.

For state performance rankings there is a noticeable break after Akron, with the three of the four most disadvantaged districts ranking well below other Ohio urban systems. Columbus, again, is the outlier.

Taking a closer look at actual proficiency test results by district, for the 4 most disadvantaged districts for the 11th grade test:

Youngstown and Dayton bring up the bottom in all categories, with Dayton scoring below Youngtown in nearly all areas being tested. Columbus, which has more disadvantaged students (according to the state), actually has higher proficiency scores.

For the test near the end of elementary school, the scores are similar, but would include students who might eventually drop out during high school, so are probably lower since the less motivated students are still in school. All these are well below the state standard, and Dayton is lowest, as befits its high disadvantaged number.

One can ask what Columbus is doing “right”, given its relatively high test scores combined with high % of disadvantaged students, or is there some reporting error? Aside from Columbus, one can certainly see the correlation between disadvantage and performance.

The end result is graduation and maybe college. Dayton actually has a high graduation rate vis a vis the other three high-disadvantage districts.

One of the allegations is that the state tests are invalid, though what’s’ being tested seems pretty routine; basic skills like math, reading, and writing, and the application of those skills in science and social sciences. Interestingly it’s not just the state who tests in Ohio. The SAT and ACT are administered here, with the ACT being the favored test for the four disadvantaged urban districts.

Mean ACT scores with the % taking the test for the most recent year available at the state website. I also provide the Ohio statewide average for comparison.

So college bound seniors are not doing too terrible from these districts (Dayton seniors testing only 4 points off the state average) , though theremight to be a diluting effect, where more students taking the test reduces a district mean.

Next, a look at some other comparisons in per pupil funding and expenditure (relevant in considering the upcoming levy), student/teacher ratios, and discipline.


David Esrati said...

Nice work Jeffrey-
Columbus is the only city with UniGov- however, it's also the only "college town" on the list of low performers.
They do not have a unified school district though.
One may also look at the four low performers- and realize Columbus is the only district in a city where there is some real growth happening- a sense of forward motion.
Those are my guesses to why they score better.

Greg Hunter said...

I wonder how much of a correlation there would be with high number of industrial jobs ie union towns. The parents of the Youngstown, Dayton and Cleveland had the ability to get their children "jobs on the line" negating the benefit of education. The Union mentality carries through the generations.

Jefferey said...

Well, based on these scores Columbus isn't really a low perfomer, as much as it has a high amount of economically disadvantaged students.

Jefferey said...

"The parents of the Youngstown, Dayton and Cleveland had the ability to get their children "jobs on the line"

Union wages also meant that these parents could afford to send their kids to college, which also happened. Particularly with first and second generation immigrants (maybe more second generation), who saw education as a road to upward mobility.

Now this road to upward mobility is broken with the loss of good paying jobs for the working class.