07 December 2005

School Accountability Reports Misnamed.

Schools in Colorado are given a rating based on how students in those schools perform on the state's CSAP tests. The possible grades are Excellent (top 8%), High (next 25%), Average (next 40%), Low (next 25%) and Unsatisfactory (bottom 2%). The name is a farce because a factor other than how the school is managed explains most of the results. Let's look at the excellent, high and unsatisfactory rated schools in Denver:

Excellent Rated Schools (free lunch percentage):
Cory 8.4%
Polaris at Ebert 17.6%
Slavens 1.5%
Southmoor 8.5%
Steck 10.6%
Denver School of the Arts (High School) 11.9%

High Rated Schools (free lunch percentage):
Asbury 35.4%
Bromwell 7.4%
Carson 23.8%
Challenges, Choices 54.1%
Lincoln 43.6%
McKinley-Thatcher 34.1%
Steele 11.7%
Traylor 43.2%
Denver School of Arts (Middle School) 11.9%
Grant 18.4%
Hamilton 30.1%
Kipp Sunshine Peak 91.0%
Morey 37.7%
Denver Sci. Tech 42.0%

Unsatisfactory Rated Schools (free lunch percentage):
Johnson 75.4%
Mitchell 95.7%
Smith 81.7%
Cole 94.0%
Escuela Tlateloco 88.6%
Randolph 87.9%
New America 16.1% (no rating in 2004).

And, let's look at the other "unsatisfactory" schools in the metro area:
Crawford (Aurora Schools) 77.3%
Arapahoe Ridge H.S. Specialized School (Boulder Schools) 22.2% (no rating in 2004).
Center for Discovery Learning Charter (JeffCo Schools) 40.8%

Poverty is not desinty, but it is a clear trend:

-----------------------Non-Charter (Free Lunch)
Excellent----------------157 6.9%
High---------------------518 16.8%
Average------------------593 38.2%
Low----------------------320 63.2%
Unsatisfactory -----------11 71.2%
No Rating-----------------18

-----------------------Charter (Free Lunch)
Excellent----------------46 6.5%
High---------------------42 10.4%
Average------------------59 23.6%
Low----------------------28 43.8%
Unsatisfactory------------6 41.5%
No Rating-----------------2

We need a better way to rate schools, if we are going to call the reports "School Accountability Reports".

Source: The Denver Post

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