Saturday, December 8, 2012

Focus schools in mathematics (a follow-up)

Kentucky now identifies schools as "focus schools" for added support if any student subgroup scores below the third standard deviation in any subject.  In an earlier post, I showed the number of schools identified for this status based on 2012 results, using this graph:
At this week's Kentucky Board of Education meeting, Ken Draut answered one of the puzzles raised by that graph: why no mathematics identifications?

In a nutshell, it's an effect of low, low scores.  If you have a mean of 32 percent proficient and a standard deviation of 12,  you end up looking for  minus-4 percent proficiency--and that's basically how the math scores shook out.

Ken Draut suggested to KBE that the regulation can be amended to say that we'll use zero percent proficient if the third standard deviation yields a negative number.  An amendment makes sense, and that one would solve the problem.

I'm going to throw out an alternative: define a focus school based on gap group to be" an individual student subgroup .... with a score  that places that subgroup in the bottom 1 percent  for all students."  That' can be easier for most folks  to understand, and in most cases it will yield the same result as the third standard deviation method--but when the deviation goes negative, the 1 percent method will still allow schools to be identified if a gap group is far enough below the state mean.

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!