Saturday, September 6, 2008

More Urban School District Comparisons

Revisiting the urban school situation, but this time looking at median income and test scores.

In the last post we looked at economic disadvantage and how performance compared. Here we will look at median income, which is supposed to have a high correlation with poor performance. Laying out the urban districts by median income, highest on the left and lowest on the right.

Then the performance index score. One can see the three of the lowest income districts have low performance index cores, with the exception of Canton. All districts are below the state average.

One notes that Dayton scores at the bottom, but lower income districts do score slghtly higher.

The SAT and ACT scores are usually not available to the public at district level from the test administrators themselves, so the state putting these up, even if they are averages, is quite a find. SAT and ACT are administered nationwide, and are generally accepted by colleges and universities as a factor in determining admissions, so pretty important to college-bound graduates from urban Ohio.

For center city districts in Ohio, the favored test is the ACT, with very few taking the SAT. The exception is Cincinnati, where 40% of the graduates take the SAT.

Two charts, showing ACT and SAT scores for center city districts in the 8 largest Ohio metros, and the % of seniors taking each test. I also provide the statewide average

Note that that the mean score for a district is somewhat related to the number of students taking the test, particularly for the SAT.

For example, if one just looks at the mean score, one could say Youngstown students are better prepared as they scored a mean 1002 on the SAT, compared to Cincinnati’s’ 944 But only 2% of Youngstown students take the SAT, vs. over 43.4% for Cincy.

The ACT might be a better comparison between districts as there are substantial numbers of high school grads taking this test.

Other Comparisons: Student/Teacher Ratio and Discipline

It’s said that having fewer students per teacher will improve performance. It’s not clear if this was a variable that the YSU study looked at, but one can see it doesn’t really correlate to test results (on the previous post).

Dayton has one of the lower student/teacher ratios, yet it’s performance on the proficiency tests is also low, which gives even more credence to the weight of socioeconomic factors determining school performance.

And, just for grins, discipline. Not sure what this means nowadays, but when yer humble host was in school in Kentucky and Chicago, it meant corporal punishment, detention, and if you were really bad suspension and expulsion (though in Louisville they sent you to a special school, if you didn’t drop out).

Looking at discipline rates (incidents per 100 pupils) for the center city districts, one can see that Dayton is a real outlier, having the lowest discipline rate by far, even for low median income districts.

I will be looking at school funding/expenditures and teachers pay later, when discussion on the school levy heats up)

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